Academician Dr. Philip Njemanze, the Chairman of the Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), made a stunning revelation on the Imo Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law 2021 review of the signing of the law by Governor Hope Uzodimma on 15th December, 2021.
According to him, the law legalizes abortion, same-sex marriage, bans the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran, ordains female priests, and crowns women as Ezes.
Njemanze noted that in summary, the National and Imo State VAPP Laws have provisions that accomplish the following: (1) legalize abortion; (2) recognize civil unions and legalize same-sex marriages, which will impact the traditional Nigerian family; (3) ban the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran in public; (4) ordain women as priests in the Holy Catholic Church and crown women as kings of Nigerian communities; (5) aim to silence all voices promoting good moral teachings; (6) undermine the Marriage Act that defines union between a male and a female; (7) consider the accused perpetrator guilty until proven innocent; (8) charge preachers with sexual abuse; (8) accuse bishops, priests, pastors, and imams of sexual violence; (9) imprison parents for scolding their children for sexual immorality; (10) define spouse under the VAPP Law to include same-sex couples and transgender individuals.
Njemanze gave more insight on the law in this interview:
Press: Governor Hope Uzodimma assented to the Imo State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law 2021 on 15th December, 2021. The Christian Church in Imo State oppose this law and you were among the people who warned about the dangers in this law. Can you provide specific sections of the Imo VAPP Law 2021 that legalize abortion?
Prof. Njemanze: Abortion is illegal in Nigeria. However, the VAPP Law legalized abortion in Imo State and most states by using deceptive definitions of terms. For example, in Imo State, the VAPP Law defines “Person” as a human being, male or female, and a human life from conception to natural death. This definition is deceptive because it sets out three criteria to be met in order to be considered a “Person”: (1) a human being, (2) male or female, and (3) a human life from conception to natural death. Medically, this definition is flawed. A fetus in the womb is a human being but cannot be identified as male or female until later in development, and the verification can only be done after birth in each case. To prove that the unborn is a human being from conception, the plaintiff would have to conduct a pregnancy test and obtain a certified report. However, this is not possible since the defendant, who has access to the test, would not provide evidence against herself in a lawsuit. Furthermore, the identification as male or female cannot be done if the fetus was killed through abortion or contraception, so you cannot prove it was male or female. The fetus does not meet the criteria of the definition of a “Person” under the Imo VAPP Law 2021. Hence, the VAPP Law 2021 denies personhood to the Unborn Child, so if a Unborn Child is killed through abortion or contraception, no person was killed. This is a grave crime against humanity that defies all known medical definitions of life. By passing the VAPP Law, the legislators have effectively legalized abortion in Imo State and across Nigeria. The appropriate definition of a “Person” should be a human being from the moment of conception to natural death. The VAPP Laws should be repealed and rendered null and void.
Press: The Church objected to the section in the Imo VAPP Law 2021 that defines “Harassment” as engaging in a pattern that induces fear of harm or impairs the dignity of a person. Sir, how does this make it easy to gag preachers and even ban the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran in public?
Prof Njemanze: The Imo VAPP Law bans the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran in public! The VAPP Law uses broad terms without exemptions, such as the definition of “Harassment,” which means engaging in a pattern of conduct that induces fear, harm, or impairs the dignity of a person. This definition of “Harassment” is too broad and aims to limit the spread of the Gospel or Injil of Good Morals. The message of the Gospel induces fear in sinners, for example, when the preacher states that one must uphold the Ten Commandments or face Hellfire or Eternal Damnation! The aim of this broad definition of the “Harassment” clause is to BAN THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD IN THE HOLY BIBLE AND HOLY KORAN. Therefore, if a woman or man who committed adultery hears in a sermon that punishment for breaking the Ten Commandments is Hellfire, it would induce fear. This makes the priest, pastor, or imam a “perpetrator” who has committed “Harassment” under the VAPP law. It indicts the Bishop who authorized the printing of the bulletin stating that “any person who commits adultery, fornication, or abortion would be liable to Hellfire” and shares tracts, bulletins, text messages, emails, and other means of communication repeatedly. The Bishop could be sued for “Sexual Harassment” since the message was sexual in nature and induced fear of Hellfire, impairing the dignity of the individuals concerned. The aim of this clause is to gag religious preachers and destroy the moral fabric of Nigeria. If the VAPP Law was well-intended, it should have an exclusionary clause stating: “But does not include teachings on good moral conduct in the context of religious and traditional moral teachings.” The VAPP Law was not well-intended and should be repealed, rendered null and void, and have no effect.
Press: Some Church spokespersons at the public hearing said that the VAPP Law legalizes Same-Sex Marriage. Prof, does the Imo VAPP 2021 law legalize same-sex marriage?
Prof Njemanze: The Imo VAPP Law 2921 legalizes same-sex marriage! The VAPP Law interprets the term “Domestic relationship” as a relationship between any person and a perpetrator of violence constituted in any of the following ways: (a) they are or were married to each other, including marriage according to the Marriage Act, custom, or religion. This definition of domestic relationship recognizes civil unions, as it includes marriages between persons of male and female sexes (heterosexuals) and same-sex marriages between male-male, female-female, and transgender individuals. The term “Domestic relationship” is a form of civil union not recognized in Nigerian law, religion, or customs. The Marriage Act mentioned is not the Marriage Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but it refers to any marriage act. Any Marriage Act could also refer to the Same-Sex Marriage Act of the State of California or New York. The Marriage Act must be specified and recognized according to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The VAPP Bill should be repealed for permitting civil unions, which will destroy the fabric of Nigerian society.
Press: Some traditional rulers have complained that the Igbo traditions are threatened by the Imo VAPP Law 2021. Some fear that the traditional stool in their communities will be occupied by women in the near future. Some priests also say that soon we will have women priests of the Holy Catholic and Anglican Church under the law. Are these fears founded?
Prof Njemanze: The fear expressed by traditional rulers regarding the Imo VAPP Law 2021 is indeed well-founded. The law poses a significant threat to our customs and traditions that have been integral to our communities for millennia. The VAPP Law employs deceptive language and definitions of terms, such as the definition of “Harmful traditional practices,” which encompasses any traditional behavior, attitude, or practice that negatively affects the fundamental rights and dignity of women, girls, or any person, including the denial of the right of inheritance.
Inheritance takes various forms, with parental inheritance rights being the most well-known. However, other forms of inheritance, such as the “Apostolic Inheritance or Apostolic Succession Rights of male priests of the Holy Catholic Church” and the exclusive male inheritance rights of the Ezeship in Igbo tradition, are also recognized. The VAPP Law ordains women as priests in the Holy Catholic Church and crowns them as Ezes/Obas/Sultans of Nigerian communities. According to the VAPP Law, the right of inheritance encompasses the inheritance of property, chieftaincy thrones, traditional positions within a family, Apostolic Succession, and more.
Nigerian traditions allow for inheritance rights to be open to both women and men. However, certain rights, such as the right to kingship throne, are traditionally reserved for male children due to the fact that kingship is also a priestly position in our African traditional religion. This aspect touches on the freedom of religion as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is consistent with the concept of “Male Apostolic Succession Rights” within the Holy Catholic Church priesthood.
The architects of the National and Imo State VAPP Law 2021 have effectively outlawed the male-only kingship traditional institution, which ultimately aims to dismantle the traditional leadership structure and, by extension, undermine the male apostolic succession within the Holy Catholic Church. Their objective is to weaken the influence of both religious and traditional institutions and remove the restrictions they impose on immoral conduct within society. I strongly recommend that this clause be more specific and state:
(a) denial of the right to inherit parental land and movable property in accordance with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The VAPP Law should not exploit inheritance rights to undermine traditional and religious institutions.
Press: You mentioned the issue of religious freedom. Some have claimed that religious teachings are prohibited by the VAPP Law. How does the VAPP Law restrict moral teachings?
Prof Njemanze: It is accurate to assert that the VAPP Law effectively silences all preachers from imparting Christian or Islamic moral codes. The VAPP Law utilizes the term “Intimidation,” which is defined as the uttering or conveying of a threat or causing any person to receive a threat that induces fear, anxiety, or discomfort. This definition clearly indicates that the VAPP Law was specifically designed to stifle all voices that promote good moral teachings. The broadness of this definition of “Intimidation” aims to restrict the teaching of ethical principles. It implicates parents, priests, pastors, imams, and traditional rulers who preach against immoral social practices.
There is an urgent need for an exclusionary clause that explicitly states: “But this does not apply to teachings on good moral conduct within the context of religious and traditional moral teachings.” Such a clause would protect the freedom to propagate and impart moral values based on religious and traditional teachings.
Press: In the VAPP Law, in addition to Sexual Abuse, there is also a term called Sexual Violence. What is the distinction between the two?
Prof Njemanze: According to the VAPP Law, “Sexual violence” encompasses any form of physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological violence or trauma inflicted upon an individual, regardless of gender. This includes acts such as rape, violence, threats of violence, coercion, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty or dignity, whether taking place in public or private settings. The intention behind this provision is to utilize the VAPP Law to accuse individuals such as Sultans, Bishops, Priests, Pastors, and Imams of committing acts of sexual violence by teaching the word of God.
Furthermore, the Imo VAPP Law 2021 incorporates another deceptive clause known as “Emotional Sexual Violence.” How does one engage in “emotional sexual violence” under the VAPP Law? A priest, pastor, or imam who condemns homosexuality, fornication, or adultery could be accused of causing emotional distress to those implicated. Consequently, the preacher could face charges of Emotional Sexual Violence in public, as dictated by the VAPP Law.
The ultimate goal of the international detractors funding this VAPP Law, which aims to outlaw the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran, is to imprison bishops, priests, pastors, and imams for publicly preaching from these holy books. It is imperative that the Imo VAPP Law 2021 be repealed, rendered null and void, and deemed ineffective.
Press: The term “spouse” in the VAPP Law has sparked a major controversy. Can you explain why?
Prof Njemanze: The controversy surrounding the term “spouse” in the VAPP Law arises from its definition. According to the law, a “spouse” is defined as a male sex (husband) or a female sex (wife) as recognized under the Marriage Act, Customary Law, Islamic Law, and Christian doctrine, making either or both individuals eligible to be referred to as spouses. However, the use of the terms “male sex (husband)” and “female sex (wife)” is misleading, as medical procedures such as sex-change surgeries and hormonal therapies can alter an individual’s biological sex.
Furthermore, the VAPP Law does not specify which Marriage Act or jurisdiction is applicable. Depending on the chosen Marriage Act, it could refer to the Nigerian Marriage Act or even the Marriage Acts of California or New York. This deliberate ambiguity allows for the inclusion of same-sex couples and transgender individuals as spouses, depending on the selected Marriage Act.
The accurate application of the term “spouse” should be limited to individuals who are biologically male from birth and biologically female from birth, voluntarily entering into a covenantal conjugal union. Therefore, the VAPP Laws at the national and state levels should be repealed, rendered null and void, and deemed ineffective.
Press: Thank you, Sir. We hope that those involved in the matter are taking note of your perspective.