Insurgency: Reps mull stigmatisation prohibition legislation

The House of Representatives has initiated a bill which seeks to prohibit stigmatisation of victims of insurgency or militancy from re-integration with the community.

The proposed bill titled: ‘Insurgency or Militancy Victim Stigmatisation (Prohibition) Bill, 2020,’ which scaled through First Reading is expected to be gazetted for Second Reading, also seeks to provide for the prosecution and punishment of any person or group of persons who stigmatise such victims with the view to uphold and protect their fundamental right to dignity and free association as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Clause 1 of the private member bill sponsored by Hon Ben Rollands Igbakpa, provides that: “Every person, community and institution shall protect and uphold the right of dignity and free Association of victims of insurgency or militancy; and ensure equal opportunity and re-integration of victims of insurgency or militancy into the community.”

Clause 2 of the Bill entitled ‘Protection of the rights of victims of insurgency or militancy’, stipulated that: “No person, community or institution shall stigmatise directly or indirectly any person in the society on the basis of such person been a -victim of insurgency or militancy; and child born as a result of insurgency.”

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According to the proponent of the bill, “it is an offence to stigmatise any person on the basis of been a victim of insurgency or militancy or a child born as a result of act of insurgency or militancy by- nick-naming such person with the view of degrading his honour and personality in the community; failure to do anything or to take any steps to enable such person has smooth re-integration into the community; failure to remove, eliminate or ameliorate any obstacle that unfairly deter such a person from enjoying equal opportunities; refusal or denial of access to communal places, worship areas, residential spaces, social facilities and any other place of human endeavour; instigating any person to refuse to marry such person on the basis of either born as a result of insurgency or been a victim of insurgency or militancy; and doing any other thing that is intended to affect the dignity, integration and any other rights of such person,” Clause 3 of the bill stated.

As provided in the proposed legislation for the period of the travail, “employer of any victim of insurgency or militancy shall absorb and pay all the entitlement due to such person as if he has been in active service,” as stipulated in Clause 4 of the bill.

In the bid to serve as ensure compliance in Clause 5 of the bill, “any person or institution, who contravenes any of the provisions of this bill commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N500,000 for individual or imprisonment for a period of not less than one year or both; and N2,000,000 for institution.”

The proponent of the bill also conferred the power to initiate litigation against anyone who tramples on his right in Clause 6 of the bill, which provides that: “Nothing in this Bill shall deprive the personal right of an individual affected directly by a contravention of this bill to bring a civil action in court against any person or institution right of an individual to commence a civil suit.”

Clause 7(1 & 2) also empowers the Minister of Justice to ensure compliance with and enforce the provisions of this bill by receiving petition from aggrieved person; conduct an inquiry into any allegation of a contravention of this Bill; make recommendations to an institution or individual pursuant to an inquiry carried out; and Commence criminal proceedings against any violator in a court of competent jurisdiction.

“The Minister of Justice may make regulations generally for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Bill.”

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