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Why Lagos State Needs A VAPP/SGBV Law!

Why Lagos State Needs A VAPP/SGBV Law

Why Lagos State Needs A VAPP/SGBV Law! Daily Law Tips (Tip 722) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)


Believe it or not, Lagos State is ahead of all other states in Nigeria and even Nigeria, itself. Lagos State’s unprecedented innovations in administration, management, investment, entertainment, legislations and project delivery, only get replicated in other states after 3 to 5 years. For example, Lagos State is the only state with a multi million generating toll gate on a Design, Build, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) Concession Agreement. In 2011, Lagos State amended its Criminal Code and expanded the definition of sexual assault among other things, which was later entertained in the popular Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act in 2015 for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and by 2020 in other states in Nigeria. Ahead of the 2015 federal legislation on criminal justice administration, (the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015), Lagos State had enacted its own Administration of Criminal Justice Law since 2007. In 2007, Lagos State became the only state to have a dedicated law on protection of victim of domestic violence (Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007 ). Lagos State is ahead of Nigeria!    

Lagos State Efforts on SGBV/HR/VAWG:

While Lagos State pioneered the enactment of legislation for protection of victims of domestic violence and also expanded certain forms of sexual offences, Lagos State seems to be behind in the fight against SGBV. Yes, Lagos is very behind in the war against Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Harmful Practises (HP) and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). 

In 2015, a very innovative legislation that criminalised all forms of SGBV, increased punishment and provided more protection for victims, surfaced in the nation’s capital; Abuja. The legislation is the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act  (popularly known as VAPP ACT). Among the numerous innovation of the VAPP Act, is that it expanded the definition of rape to mean that any human sex (man/woman) can be a rape-offender or a rape-victim and that any opening in the human body can be raped, while anything can be a tool for rape.  

The VAPP Act was enacted by the federal legislature but it was operational only in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It is a federal law but cannot apply and operate to other states and part of Nigeria, since the matters treated in the law, are matters within the powers of states  legislatures (Houses of Assembly). Since, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja does not have a  state legislature, it is the federal legislature that severs as the legislature for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. 

 Glamours of the VAPP Act:

The mind-blowing inventions of the VAPP Act prompted organisations and civil societies to demand that states across Nigeria enact a similar law in their states to end SGBV. However, their demands were not treated by many states since 2015. Things changed drastically in 2020, with the arrival of Coronavirus (COVID-19), lockdown across Nigeria and the resultant surge in rape and domestic violence in parts of Nigeria. At that point, ending rape and SGBV became a national anthem and many state governments enacted their own equivalents of VAPP ACT. Experience has shown that some states often water-down legislations, when they are pressurised to enact them, contrary to the wishes and opinions of the leading class. This is a coward strategy to get off the list of non-conforming states. I encourage civil society organisations and other stakeholders to always ensure that there are no ill-motivated deviations in legislations. I am presently, reviewing VAPP Laws in different states to determine deviations and expose legislative disinformation. 

Lagos State has not enacted a Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law, it does not have a Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law and does not have any dedicated legislation criminalising SGBV and Harmful Practises (HP) in Lagos State. Note that ahead of all other states in Nigeria, the Lagos State in 2011 amended its Criminal Code with a dedicated chapter on sexual assault. In the Criminal Code, Lagos State ahead of all other states, expanded sexual assault but still maintained an anachronistic definition of rape. The innovations of the VAPP Act are not by any measure contained or covered in the entire Lagos State Criminal Code of 2011. 

Furthermore, Lagos State is the first state to have a dedicated and specific law on protection of victims of domestic violence, SGBV and others. This was achieved through the Lagos State Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law (PADVL) in 2007. That piece of legislation focused on how to obtain Protection Orders for Victims of Domestic Violence. It merely defined domestic violence and clearly criminalised them but failed to state punishment for any of them. Hence, it is expected that suspects of SGBV and any form of domestic violence in Lagos State will be prosecuted according to the Lagos State Criminal Code of 2011, which is now archaic in definitions, punishment, sentencing of SGBV. 

What Lagos State Needs from the VAPP Act:

A comparison of the VAPP Act with the Lagos State Criminal Code and the Lagos State Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law (PADVL) shows huge gaps in legal framework of Lagos State with regards to SGBV. The VAPP Act has raised the bar and has shown to states that there is need for robust legislation towards ending SGBV. Among the commendable innovations of the VAPP Act, which are missing in Lagos State are; the criminalisation of the following forms of SGBV; “harmful traditional practices on widows”, “forced financial dependence or economic abuse”, “emotional, verbal and psychological abuse”, “female circumcision and genital mutilation”, “ejection of spouse from home”, “forced isolation or separation from family and friends”, “abandonment of husband or wife, children or other dependents without any means of sustenance”, “Stalking”, “Political Violence” and “indecent exposure”, among others.

The rising cases of rape in Lagos State validates the absence of a robust SGBV legislation and strategy. The inventions of the VAPP Act on rape, if replicated in Lagos State will expand the crime coverage, increase punishment, allow compensation of victims, discourage rape and strengthen pubic trust on criminal justice system in Lagos State. The VAPP Act inventions on rape, includes; “a minimum punishment of 12 years imprisonment for rape”, “any human sex (male/female) can be a rape-offender or a rape-victim”, “any opening in the human body can be raped”, “anything can be a tool for rape”, “rape victims can be compensated on orders of court”, “gang rape is criminalised and punishable with 20 years for each participating rapist”, “creation of Sex Offenders Register” and “a spouse can file for rape against the other spouse”. Basically, the VAPP Act has transformed acts considered as sexual assault in Lagos State into rape and with higher punishment, to discourage SGBV. The innovations of the VAPP Act, confirms the existence of forms of SGBV that are not yet criminalised in Lagos State, even through they are prevalent in Lagos State.  

Conclusion and Recommendation: 

Lagos State has some catching-upup  to play on having a reliable-all-forms-covering SGBV legislation that prevents SGVB, protects victims, prosecutes offenders, records sex offenders, monitors all SGBV cases, strengthens stakeholders and promotes access to justice. The combination of the Lagos State Criminal Code and the Lagos State Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law (PADVL) are not adequate legal framework on SGBV, HR and other related offences. The minimum legislation for any state in Nigeria, for fighting SGBV should now be the VAPP Act because of the legislative foresight of the makers. 

There are several legislative approaches and styles that the Lagos State  government may adopt towards a robust legal framework for SGBV that will bend the rising curves of SGBV cases in Lagos State. First, the Lagos State legislature may wish to simply amend its Criminal Code or the Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law (PADVL) to cover all forms of SGBV and accommodate all other factors for a strong SGBV legal frame work. Also, the it may wish to enact a legislation that is equivalent and even more robust than the VAPP Act. Above all, Lagos State needs a reform on its SGBV legal framework. 

My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 1, 47 and 48 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 and other similar laws in states of the federation.
  3. Sections 1, 2, 418, 419 and 420 as well as the entire Chapter 25 of the Lagos State Criminal Code, 2011
  4. Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 18 and 19 of the Lagos State Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007. 
  5. Sections 1, 2, 62, 63, 64 and 65 of the Ekiti State Gender Based Violence (Prohibition) Law, 2019.
  6. The Supreme Court’s judgment in the case (on how to prove rape) of NDEWENU POSU & ANOR v. THE STATE (2011) LPELR-1969(SC).
  7. Onyekachi Umah, “Lagos State Has No VAPP/SGBV Law !” (, 8 December 2020) <> accessed 26 January 2021. 
  8. Onyekachi Umah, “How Lagos State Is Legislatively Ahead Of Other States” (, 30 September 2020 < > accessed 7 December 2020
  9. Onyekachi Umah, “The First Virtual Court Hearing Was In Borno State And Not In Lagos State.” (, 1 June 2020) < > accessed 7 December 2020
  10. Onyekachi Umah, “Nigeria Has No Law Against Public Gathering During Covid-19 Era.” (, 14 April 2020) < > accessed 7 December 2020.
  11. Onyekachi Umah, “An Access To Criminal Laws In Nigeria” (, 4 December 2020) < > accessed 7 December 2020.
  12. Onyekachi Umah, “8 New Things About Rape Laws In Nigeria” (, 3 December 2020) < > accessed 7 December 2020
  13. OluTimehin Adegbeye, “Nothing Happens When Women Are Raped in Nigeria” (TheNewYorkTimes, 4 September 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  14. Onyekachi Umah, “ChannelsTv Interviews Onyekachi Umah on Rape and the Laws.” (, 20 November 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  15. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Woman Be Charged With Rape” (, 24 June 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  16. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Husband Rape His Wife” (, 19 June 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020.
  17. Warif Center, “Rape Stats In Nigeria” (warifng) <> accessed 2 December 2020
  18. Morenike Folayan, Morolake Odetoyinbo, Abigail Harrison and Bradon Brown, ”Rape in Nigeria: a silent epidemic among adolescents with implications for HIV infection” [2014] 7(25583) Global Health Action <> accessed 2 December 2020
  19. Onyekachi Umah, “When Is Seduction Or Indecent Dressing A Justification For Rape In Nigeria?” (, 18 June 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  20. Onyekachi Umah, “New Punishment For Rape In Nigeria” (, 23 June 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  21. Onyekachi Umah, “Rape Cannot Be Settled Out Of Court (No Room For Pay-Off/Forgiveness/Withdrawal Of Complaints” (,26 June 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  22. Adetomiwa Isiaka,“Nigeria declares ‘state of emergency’ on rape and sexual assault” (global voices, 3 July 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  23. BCC, “Nigeria’s Kaduna passes law to castrate child rapists” (BBC, 11 September 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020.
  24. Onyekachi Umah, “A Female Too, Can BE Guilty Of Rape” (, 13 December 2018) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  25. Onyekachi Umah, “Ages At Which Sexual Intercourse With Consent Will Amount To Rape” (, 20 February 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  26. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Rape In Nigeria).” (, 2 July 2019) < > accessed 2 December 2020.
  27. Onyekachi Umah, “Child Marriage/Abuse Is A Crime (Rape): An Exposé On Laws Prohibiting Child Marriage” (, 22 June 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020
  28. Onyekachi Umah, “Forced Marriage Is An Offence In Nigeria.” (, 21 October 2020) < > accessed 2 December 2020

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