The decision by Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor last Tuesday, Sept 3, 2013 to make a U-Turn, mandating the State House of Assembly to take the necessary steps to repeal the controversial Abortion Law, which had attracted widespread condemnation across the state, is a welcome development.
That directive followed a stakeholders’ meeting which Okorocha convened at the Ikemba Ojukwu Conventional Centre Owerri attended by State Legislators, religious leaders, including bishops and pastors of various Christian denominations; opinion moulders as well as pressure groups.
The legislation in contention is: The Imo State of Nigeria, Violence Against Persons Protection, Law No. 12 Section 40 passed into by the House and approved by the governor on May 29, 2012. Among other things, it permits women to procure abortion at will.
Most prominent among those who called for the repeal of the law are: the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, the Most Rev. A.J.V. Obinna, the Clergy, Catholic Medical Practitioners Association and other Pro-life groups. These have described the Abortion Law as inhuman, ungodly and a willful murder of the unborn child. Since Imo people learnt of it, many have asked: “Where were the elected representatives of the people when such anti-life legislation sailed through”? Was the position taken by the lawmakers in the interest of the people they represent”? The Most Rev. Obinna, had at a press briefing in Owerri told newsmen that church’s teaching is that life, even that of the unborn baby is sacred and should be respected from conception to natural death. As such, nobody has the right to terminate it. Many pro-life groups have also called for the immediate resignation of the entire 27 lawmakers who passed such an anti-life bill into law. They also called for the repealing of all similar Acts on abortion previously signed into law.
Emerging facts in the past two weeks also reveal that former Governor Achike Udenwa signed a similar Bill into law on the eve of his departure from office, cited as “Law No. 7 of 2007 for the protection of the Rights of Women…” It is now clear that the serving legislators at the time clandestinely evaded the House of Assembly usual procedural hearings and secretly got Udenwa to give the Bill an executive fiat. We would recall that the regime of Governor Ikedi Ohakim, also attempted to foist an Abortion Law on the good people of Imo State. The then Speaker Goodluck Opiah-led House of Assembly had already passed the Second reading of that Abortion Law: tagged “Women Reproductive Rights” and were about to forward it for governor’s assent when their plan leaked. The law makers had no choice than to withdraw the Bill following a popular demonstration in Owerri.
The question begging for answer is: Why has every administration in Imo State been hell-bent on legalizing abortion, whereas each one of the law makers belongs to one Christian denomination or another”? We do not want to believe that our law makers are being sponsored from abroad by Pro-abortion groups. But there is every indication that there is a great benefit for Imo Law Makers to make Imo the first and only State in Nigeria to legalize abortion than what meets the public eye. Otherwise Imo people would not be suffering from scarcity of food, bad roads, insecurity, unemployment and corruption of the worst dimension, while their so called representatives are busy preparing Laws to terminate the innocent baby in the womb. So when did abortion and rape become our most pressing problems?
From this singular bill therefore, the Imo State government is telling us that it is not capable of handling problems of rape, violence and insecurity. Let those behind this outrageous legislation know that what they are doing simply amounts to trivializing the evil of rape and incest. It is annoying is that the governor after signing the abortion law was denying it. We are however happy that he has toed the path of honour by kick-starting the process of repealing that abominable law, for as many times as it rears up its ugly head, so many times will Imo people continue to reject it.