ANAMBRA’S ABORTION LAW (1)

By   Sonnie Ekwowusi

What is happening to Imo State Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha at the moment over the legalization of abortion in Imo State readily attests that in constitutional democracy the government ought to be responsible to the people and not to its own whims and caprices. Abortion was legalized in Imo State through the backdoor without the knowledge and consent of the citizens of Imo State. Initially when confronted with this fact, Governor Okorocha flatly denied it, but after a long cross-examination, he eventually admitted the fact and quickly pleaded for forgiveness. I gather that he has requested the Imo State House of Assembly to repeal the offensive law.  I hope that the Imo State citizens would follow up to ensure that the law is truly and really repealed.

But aside from Imo state, abortion, unknown to many, has equally been legalized in Anambra State under the deceptive euphemism. “Anambra State Women’s Reproductive Rights Law 2005”. The law came into force on 17th March, 2005 when Dr. Chris Ngige was the Governor of Anambra State and Professor Brian Adinma was the commissioner for Health, Anambra State.

The Anambra “Women’s Reproductive Rights Law” is a 12-paragraph piece of legislation. Deceptively enough, the word, abortion is not specifically mentioned in the law. That is understandable. Because the word: abortion is repugnant in Nigeria socio-cultural and religious setting: because previous attempts to legalize abortion in Nigeria had been met with stiff opposition, UNFPA and other pro-abortion United Nations Agencies in Africa have been employing euphemisms and dodgy words in marketing abortion in Africa. For those still wondering whether the phrase “Women’s Reproductive Right” is another name for abortion, I attended the Reproductive Right Summit in Abuja in 2003. In fact it was at that Summit that I first understood the real meaning of the phrase: “Women’s Reproductive Right”.  At the lobby of the of the Ladi Kwali Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, venue of the Summit, the Summit organizers displayed all sorts of abortificients and literature on permanent sterilization Vasectomy, female sterilization (Tubal Ligation), injectable contraceptives, IUCD, postinor2,Lo-femenal, norplant, suction tubes etc. Later, the organisers of the said Summit told journalists in attendance that the best tactics of promoting abortion in the media is to employ euphemisms and deceptive languages in reporting abortion so that it could easily be sold to the unwary public.

Three years after the said Summit, Senator Daisy Ehanire-Danjuma (then representing Edo-South at the Senate) sponsored an Abortion Bill at the National Assembly under the euphemism: National Institute of Reproductive Health bill 2006. I was one of the lawyers who faulted the bill at the Senate Public Hearing on the ground that even though the word: abortion was not specifically mentioned in the bill, it was nevertheless an abortion law per excellence. At the end of the Hearing, the National Assembly Health Committee heeded our argument and dismissed Danjuma’s Reproductive Health bill for lack of merit and for being incompatible with Nigeria law, public morality and public interest.

But as I said earlier, the Anambra State abortion law came into force on 17th March, 2005. Dr. Chris Ngige was the Governor of Anambra State and Professor Brian Adinma, the Anambra commissioner for Health respectively at that time. Prior to passing of the law by the Anambra State House of Assembly and signing of same by Dr. Ngige, the people of Anambra State were never consulted let alone invited to debate the Bill on it. If democracy is still government of the people by the people and for the people, the Anambra stakeholders should have been consulted at the time of the Anambra abortion law was being hatched more so when the law affects destiny of the Anambra people. Therefore for lacking in popular participation required in a democracy, and for being unconstitutional and incompatible with public policy, public morality and public interest, the Anambra State Women’s Reproductive Rights Law 2005” should be abrogated.

The most offensive section of the “Anambra Women’s Reproductive Rights Law” law is section 6(a) which states: “The view of the woman shall be taken into consideration for decisions: On the number, timing and spacing of the children…

To the uninformed, said section 6 (a) of the law might appear laudable, but to those familiar with the reproductive rights or sexual reproductive rights  politics., section 6 (a) has consistently been interpreted in many countries and places as giving women right to abortion and contraceptives. In fact section 6(a) was first articulated as an abortion right by the controversial proclamation on Human Rights in Teheran in 1968. In 1948 when all nations met and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) abortion was not accepted as a universal human right. (The UDHR is the first and only universal human rights document that has the backing of all the nations). Even there is no mention of reproductive rights in the UDHR. Reproductive rights began to appear as a subset of human rights in the controversial 1968 Proclamation of Teheran, which states: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children”. But in the book, Resource Guide to the UN Consensus Language on Family Issues, compiled and edited by Susan Roylance, Greg S. Slater writes that the United Nations consensus language clearly limits abortions rights.

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MR. PRESIDENT, PLEASE SIGN THIS BILL

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By            Sonnie Ekwowusi

Last week, an executive director (name withheld) of a famous Nigerian bank (name-withheld) shocked us in a meeting at the Lekki Phase 1, Lagos residence of a lawyer friend. While we busied ourselves discussing business over suya meat and chilled cans of Gulder and Guinness beer, the issue of moral degeneracy in Nigeria cropped up. Then the executive director narrated how one day a certain male employee of his bank went out for a routine marketing only to return with his suit completely torn. Asked by his colleagues in office why his suit got torn, the young man explained how he was homosexually assaulted by a man who had all along been pretending that he would do business with the bank. Anyway, to cut the long bizarre story short, the assault was reported to the Police. But as you know very well, police investigation in Nigeria never ends, and even if it ends it is
not likely to produce any good fruit.

That said, I also gather that there is now a thriving gay club for youngsters in Surulere, Lagos. A friend narrated how one day he ran into a young lesbian in the heart of Surulere, boasting that she was preparing to get “married” to another young lesbian whom she referred to as her “fiancée”. Heard what happened in Anambra State on June 12, 2013?. Two suspected gays were been arraigned at the Atani Chief Magistrate Court when suddenly a group of gay men (or, probably a rented crowd) stormed the court and attempted to disrupt the court proceeding.
Beyond lamentation, these true stories reinforce the argument that homosexuality or lesbianism is a real threat to the Nigerian pre-existing socio-political order. Those who think otherwise or who still argue that the National Assembly should have preoccupied itself with more “serious issues” instead of debating the anti-gay Bill are not reasoning properly. The family institution, as the Nigerian Law Reform Commission has rightly stated, is the fundamental unit of society. It is, above all, a veritable safety-net especially in Africa where social security system is virtually non-existent. Therefore the destruction of the family is tantamount to societal destruction. Even though making marriage-considered as a legally sanctioned union of a man and a woman-a public desideratum is not the job of the State, the State should protect marriage because it is a public good that sustains civil society and promotes the common good. More importantly, the human society, as Professor Douglas Farrow of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, correctly argues, is built on heterosexual social norm. For example, almost hundred per cent of Nigerian citizens, like citizens of every country in the world, are products of parents and grandparents who imbibed and lived heterosexuality as the social norm.
Even all these gay people who are making noise are products of parents
and grandparents of heterosexual relationships.

Therefore President Jonathan should sign the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2011 into law. Good enough, the House of Representatives had equally passed the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2011 last Tuesday. Besides, a recent poll conducted by a certain Nigerian NGO showed that about ninety-eight per cent of Nigerian citizens are in favour of outlaying gay marriage and gay practices in Nigeria. This, for me, is a triumph of participatory democracy.  That is why President Jonathan should sign this Bill. Mr.President should not be afraid of President Obama or Prime Minister Cameroun. After all, Nigerian is a sovereign nation. Therefore, no President, no Prime Minister of any country can lord it over Nigeria.

The American Supreme Court has recently ruled that there is no rationale other than hostility to homosexuals for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. That is America for you. Good luck to America! After all President Obama has legalized bestiality among American soldiers. So, let the Americans do whatever they like. But this is Nigeria.  We are a different people, with a different culture.
Senate President David Mark has courageously said for the umpteenth time that there is no going back on the criminalization of gay marriage and ban of gay activities in Nigeria. The Nigerian people have also said the same thing. They are right. It is suicidal to import into Nigeria the strange lifestyles of other people all in the name of human right.
Therefore President Jonathan should sign this Bill. If he does so, he would be scoring a great political point. First, he would regain the full confidence of the members of the National Assembly. Second, he would win the full support of religious and traditional leaders, churches, mosques, town unions and communities across the country.
Third, he would earn the respect of the members of the International community for doing what is right despite pressures from abroad to do the contrary. Finally, if President Jonathan signs this bill he would save Nigerian from the new sexual liberation aimed at deconstructing the anthropological structure of man and woman leading to the negation of reality and sexual barbarism.

Sonnie Ekwowusi, is a Nigerian delegate at the United Nations, he is also a lawyer based in Lagos

A BLESSED EXPLOSION

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For 40 years, governments in Europe and America have held that the world is over populated. They have pressured their counterparts in Africa and elsewhere to curtail the powers of parents to have more children, claiming that parents could not be trusted to plan their families, and that the governments should take over the task. They sank huge funds into population control propaganda with such intensity that today there is a genuine problem of under population in many places.

However, recent findings has exposed the foolishness of these overpopulation scaremongers whose views have contributed in no small way to a high number of aged persons amongst many populace without the corresponding high number of young people to support them.

Many countries have now realised this too late. They have usurped the power of planning the family from the parent; suddenly they are now panicking, and are trying to reverse the ominous trend.

One country particularly affected is Egypt. Under the rein of the tyrant Hosni Mubarak who was ousted with the revolution, Egypt, apart from funding family planning programs, also funded publicity campaigns to curtail a population growth that was blamed for crippling Egypt’s development.

 Mubarak advocated that couples should have maximum of two children and this was propagated by slogans such as: “Before you have another baby, secure its needs. According to Dr. Nahla Abdel-Tawab, the Egypt director of the non-profit Population Council, “The president himself used to talk about population increases and it was also in the newspapers, even in the speeches of the Prime minister.”

Thankfully, the new president Mohamed Morsi, seems to have changed all that. Since he came to power, the Egyptian government is no longer saying anything about the over population. Health officials also have “taken a starkly different view of climbing birthrates, presenting the problem as one of economic management – not the size of the population.

Now, population has seemed to vanish even from public discussion. Health workers said they were stunned when Dr. Abeer Barakat, an assistant minister for health who is responsible for family planning, made no explicit mention at a United Nations conference in December of population or family planning in describing the Health Ministry’s priorities.

Birthrate (births per 1000 people) in Egypt is rising to 32, a level not seen since 1991.  Last year, there were 2.6 million births in Egypt, bringing the population to around 84 million people.  Population experts and European countries are not comfortable with the silence of the government, and are fearful that the Egyptians would start mass-producing babies again as if they were senseless.

I think I like what Mohamed is doing. He is leaving the parents to make the decision themselves. This point was well captured by Marcus Roberts who said that “The people who rose up in a revolution only a couple of years ago and braved their previous government’s soldiers and policemen to topple Mubarak are not bereft of ideas about how to limit their family size without the government telling them to.”

I think we should stop over flogging this mythical issue of overpopulation and rather spend more time on solving other illness like polio, malaria and HIV.

“The real problem is administration,” said Hamid al-Daly, a representative of the ultra conservative Nour Party and a member of the health committee in Egypt’s upper house of Parliament. “The population is a blessing if we use it well, and a curse if we mismanage the crisis.”

Africa countries like Nigeria are also under pressure from America and Europe to curtail her population. But we will bless that explosion if it comes. I think is high time that Europe and America realise that we Africans love the cries of children, we also need the man-power to become the next world continent. We implore, our distracters in line with the United Nations charter to respect our sovereignty and lets us be.

 

SHOULD CONDOM BE AN OPTION OR NOT?

benue   New Picture

Map of Benue State

By Nwachukwu joshua

In Benue state, Nigeria, there is an emotional upheaval, because the state government recently disclosed that over 1 million out of the 4.5 million populace, in the state have been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

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