Stopping Wife/Husband From Friends/Family Is An Offence.

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Stopping Wife/Husband From Friends/Family Is An Offence. Daily Law Tips (Tip 674) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction: 

It is common to find a home, where a spouse (mostly a wife) is prohibited from associating with certain or all of her friends and even family members. In some cases, husbands prohibit their wives from associating, supporting and giving back to their wives families or friends. Well, the concerned wives are only advised to pray and pray while their husbands kill them slowly. Some argue that this is a family matter and should be left to family members to settle. However, the conduct is a crime and not a family matter. This work examines the offence of stopping a husband/wife from relating and associating with his/her family and friends. 

Freedom of Association:

Every person in Nigeria, irrespective of sex or class, has a right to associate with other persons. This is a fundamental human right contained in the constitution of Nigeria and cannot be violated by any person, marriage or relationship. Marriage does not and cannot violate this right, no matter the type of marriage. A husband/wife cannot order, force, restrict or isolate the wife/husband from associating with other persons, including family and friends. Click this link to find a full list of all the fundamental human rights in Nigeria; https://learnnigerianlaws.com/endsarsnow-compensation-for-police-brutality/ .

Fundamental Human Rights are golden and cannot be breached, (however, some fundamental human rights can be suspended by government where there is a valid law or order of court or where there is a state of emergency. Click this link to learn how and when some fundamental human rights can be suspended in Nigeria; https://learnnigerianlaws.com/human-rights-that-can-never-be-restricted-even-in-war-pandemic-or-state-of-emergency-daily-law-tips-tip-539-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/. Across Nigeria, women have the highest number of victims (women being forced to isolate from family and friends) of human rights violation. The society, tradition and religion seem to promote violation of fundamental human rights of women in Nigeria. 

Offence Of Forced Isolation or Separation from Family and Friends:  

The Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria are contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Click this link to find a full list of all the fundamental human rights in Nigeria; https://learnnigerianlaws.com/endsarsnow-compensation-for-police-brutality/. Where there is a breach of any fundamental human right, the victim or his/her supporters can take the violator to court. The court must be either a State High Court or the Federal High Court. It can not be a Magistrate Court, Area Court, Sharia Court or Customary Court.

The process of seeking for justice, for violation of human right is very fast in most courts. It is about the fastest business you can do in a court in Nigeria aside obtaining motions, affidavits and stamping documents. Where there is a violation of fundamental human right, the court can award payment of huge monetary compensation against the violator. Read my earlier work on remedies/compensations for violation of human rights via this link; https://learnnigerianlaws.com/endsarsnow-compensation-for-police-brutality/  

Aside being a violation of human right, forced isolation or separation from family and friends is a criminal offence in Nigeria. In 2015, the National Assembly (Nigeria’s federal legislature) made the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 to discourage violence against human beings in Abuja, FCT and to punish offenders. The said law listed forced isolation from family and friends as a harmful traditional practise and declared such harmful traditional practises as unlawful and criminal. The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 is popularly known as the VAPP ACT, it is operational in the Federal Capital Territory and many states across Nigeria, have adopted and enacted similar laws. So, there are now the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Laws in many states across Nigeria.

Punishment For Forced Isolation or Separation From Family and Friends:

Where there is forced isolation or separation from family and friends there is an offence. Forced isolation or separation from family and friends is an offence punishable with maximum of 6 months or fine of N100,000.00 or both. The punishments for attempting such offence or assisting and aiding such offence is a maximum of 3 months imprisonment and or fine of #100,000.00 or both. 

Conclusion: 

Marriage does not suspend or restrict any fundamental human right in Nigeria. Married people are human being and have human rights.  No marriage in Nigeria permits a husband/wife to force, stop, isolate or separate a wife/husband from her/his family and friends. It is a violation of fundamental human right and also a criminal offence for any person or husband/wife to restrict the association and relationship of his/her wife/husband. Your husband/wife is not your child and even a child that is above 18 years has full fundamental human rights to determine his/her own associations, relationships, friends and family. 

Kindly note that the law creating the above offence is operational in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Similar laws are now operational in Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Benue, Cross River, Kaduna, FCT, and Plateau states. Soon, more States will enact similar laws as we encourage states to do so and condemn violence. 

The punishments stated in the VAPP Act should be made to be minimum punishments instead of maximum punishments to avoid the release of offenders with mere slaps on wrists. Click this to read my earlier works on women rights in Nigeria <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/?s=women+rights >

My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 40, 42 (1), 45 and 46 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 13, 47 and 48 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 and similar laws across states in Nigeria.
  3. Onyekachi Umah, “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting/Elongation, Breasts Ironing And Forced Marriage Are Now Criminal Offences In Nigeria” (Daily Law Tips [443]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-elongation-breasts-ironing-and-forced-marriage-are-now-criminal-offences-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-443-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 12 October 2020. 
  4. Onyekachi Umah, “Harmful Widowhood Practices (Traditions) Are Illegal In Nigeria” (Daily Law Tips [Tip 589]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/harmful-widowhood-practices-traditions-are-illegal-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-589-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 12 October 2020. 
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “Forceful Isolation/Separation Of Family Members/Friends Is Now An Offence In Nigeria” (Daily Law Tips [356]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/forceful-isolation-separation-of-family-members-friends-is-now-an-offence-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-356-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 12 October 2020.
  6. “Approval For Marriage Of Female Officers/Staff Is Unconstitutional and Discriminatory”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tips 660]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/approval-for-marriage-of-female-officers-staff-is-unconstitutional-and-discriminatory/> accessed 2 October 2020.
  7. “Nigerian Women Say ‘No’ To Gender-Based Violence” Leone Usigbe (United Nations) <https://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/nigerian-women-say-‘no’-gender-based-violence> accessed 2 October 2020
  8. “Human Rights Situation in Nigeria and Women’s Rights Concerns in Mauritania: Submission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights” (Human Rights Watch, 27 April 2018) <https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/04/27/human-rights-situation-nigeria-and-womens-rights-concerns-mauritania> accessed 2 October 2020.
  9. “Abolished Anti-Women Custom of Onitsha People of Anambra State, Nigeria” Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tips 522]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/abolished-anti-women-custom-of-onitsha-people-of-anambra-state-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-522-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 2 October 2020
  10. “The Role of Women Judges and a Gender Perspective in Ensuring Judicial Independence and Integrity”, Judge Vanessa Ruiz (UNODC) <https://www.unodc.org/dohadeclaration/en/news/2019/01/the-role-of-women-judges-and-a-gender-perspective-in-ensuring-judicial-independence-and-integrity.html> accessed 2 October 2020.
  11. “Citizen By Marriage Is Discriminatory and Against Nigerian Women”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tips 653]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/citizen-by-marriage-is-discriminatory-and-against-nigerian-women/> accessed 2 October 2020.
  12. “Abolished Anti-Women Custom of Yoruba People of Nigeria”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tips 653]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/abolished-anti-women-custom-of-yoruba-people-of-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-523-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 2 October 2020.
  13. “It’s Not Freedom For Women in Nigeria as 23 States Hold Back Signing on the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act”, Aderemi Ojekunle (Dataphyte, 15 June 2020) <https://www.dataphyte.com/gender/its-not-freedom-for-women-in-nigeria-as-23-states-hold-back-signing-on-the-violence-against-persons-prohibition-act/> accessed 2 October 2020. 
  14. “Can a Married Woman Inherit Her Parents’ Property?”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tips 535]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-married-woman-inherit-her-parents-property-daily-law-tips-tip-535-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 2 October 2020. 

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