Civil society groups urge NASS to disregard Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill



The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), a coalition of civil society groups, on Sunday advised the Senate not to re-represent the rejected Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill.

It said that it was contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on March 14, the Senate rejected the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill sponsored by Sen. Biodun Olujimi of PDP, Ekiti-South for lack of merit.

But FACH’s Regulatory Affairs Director, Mrs Nkem Agboti, told journalists at a news briefing on Sunday in Lagos that the bill was incompatible with the language of African Human Rights Charter.

Hence, it should not be re-represented for consideration at the NASS, she said.
Agboti said that since some sections of the bill already existed in the Criminal Code, Marriage Act and the Maintenance Act of the country’s constitution, there was no need for a new law.

“Some of the provisions of that bill -Sections 4(a), 7(iii) – (vii), 8, 13, 14, 15 and 17 already existed in our constitution and shows redundancy of the bill.

“Instead of spending time deliberating, analysing, passing, signing fresh laws, let us look at the laws we already have, try to improve on the enforcement, create awareness so that we can take advantage of those existing provisions, ” she said.

Also speaking, Dr Nkechi Asogwa, Director, Doctors Health Initiative, said that the bill also injected some provisions that were contrary to the country’s constitution and moral code.

Asogwa said that the provisions promoted abrasive western liberation of women, gay practices, legalisation of abortion and gender stereotyping.
According to her, all these are contrary to the Nigerian laws and the religious, cultural and philosophical convictions of the Nigerian people.

“Those applauding the bill do not understand the bill. They mistake the bill for a bill promoting equality between men and women.

“They think that the bill is aimed at promoting the economic, political and cultural empowerment of the Nigerian women. But the bill reveals otherwise.

“The public needs to be educated and enlightened on this issue, especially women. We need to rise up and ensure that bill is not passed, “she said.

Mr Sonnie Ekwowusi, Director, Project for Human Development, said that the group had sent a memorandum to the NASS to disregard the bill.

“If the bill must be re-presented, it should be re-titled. – ‘Women Empowerment Bill’ and the long title of the bill that promotes western liberation of women, abortion and homosexuality should be expunged from the bill, ” he said.

Ekwowusi urged the media to be promoters of the country’s cultural heritage by investigating issues properly and educating the public appropriately.

NAN reports that FACH comprises of: Global Health Alliance, Nigerian Life League, Islamic Platform of Nigeria, Good Parenting and Youth Empowerment, Happy Home Foundation, Nigerian Association for Women Advancement and others.

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