The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), is working out strategies with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), to fully implement provisions of the Violence Against (Prohibition) Act of 2015, to ensure a hitch-free 2023 General Election across the Country.
Director General, DG, of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, stated this in Abuja while speaking on the preparation of the Agency in collaboration with the CDD to monitor the conduct of political gladiators, voters, and other stakeholders during the planned election.
Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, said since participation of all persons in the political process is key to achieving a more secure, prosperous, and democratic society, the Agency would play its part in safeguarding the integrity of the nations election.
The DG, said that “ following the enactment of the VAPP Act in 2015, NAPTIP was given additional responsibility to implement and enforce the Act, in the FCT. The Act provides a legal framework for protection of persons against all forms of violence in private and public life.
“The meaningful participation of all persons in political processes is key to achieving a more secure, prosperous, and democratic society. However, this can be obstructed by political violence. Which is why section 23 and 24 of the VAPP Act prohibits all forms of Political Violence by individuals and state actors.
“Political Violence is any crime perpetrated in the course of political activities, like elections which includes: thuggery, mugging, use of force to disrupt meetings; or the use of dangerous weapons that may cause bodily harm or injury.
“Specifically, Section 23 provides that ‘’A person who commits political violence is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of up to four years or a fine of up to five hundred thousand or both’’. The section also criminalizes any attempt to commit political violence; Inciting, Aiding, Abetting, or Counselling another person to commit the crime including receiving or assisting a person to commit a political crime
“For political actors, that is, group of persons, structured or organized institutions and agencies, section 24 provides the punishment of imprisonment of up to four years or a fine of up to one million naira or both. Section 24 further provides that ‘’The state is liable for the offence committed by its Agents and the court shall award appropriate compensation commensurate with the extent and amount of damages.
“The VAPP is very clear about what constitutes political violence and the different category of persons and groups that would be held liable for committing, inciting aiding, and abetting political violence in the FCT. These provisions are also applicable to the 35 States that have adopted the VAPP Act as law.
“Based on the foregoing, and in the midst of political violence across the country since the beginning of the present electioneering process including those on INEC facilities, it has become necessary for the Agency to deliberately work with other sister law enforcement Agencies to implement the above-referenced sections of the VAPP Act at this time.
“In collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) the Agency has put in place a number of mechanisms targeted at sensitizing the public against perpetrating acts of political violence”, Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, stated.
In addition to carefully curated jingles in English and pidgin being aired on two local radio stations to warn FCT residents of the consequences of any act of political violence within this period, the Director General also unveiled awareness creation materials including Posters and Red Card handbills produced, to enhance the understanding of the public on what constitutes electoral violence, indicators, and punishments, for the purpose.
NAPTIP will also mobilize its duly trained Personnel that will be present at various polling centers at the Ward level, to monitor and ensure a peaceful voting exercise.