Home Opinion Ehanire, abortion and the law (1), By Sonnie Ekwowusi

Ehanire, abortion and the law (1), By Sonnie Ekwowusi

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Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

Monumental scandals continue to rock the closing year of the Buhari government. Amid the worsening living condition in Nigeria exacerbated by the suffocating intense heat, collapsed electricity supply, acute scarcity of aviation and automobile fuel, scarcity of gas and kerosene, sky-rocking inflation, free-fall of the Naira, collapsed primary health system, genteel poverty, President Muhammadu Buhari, in keeping with his custom over the last seven years, jets out to London for medical tourism. His wife Aisha Buhari habitually resides in Dubai. She does not suffer the hardships in Nigeria.  She stays put in Dubai because life is rosy over there. In the same vein, while many sick Nigerians are dying in Nigeria for lack of access to primary health care, Mr. President flies to London to be treated by the best medical practitioners there. While he enjoys in London, his media people in Aso Villa, issue a statement on his behalf “apologising” to Nigerians for the myriads of hardships afflicting them. Unfortunately Mr. President has no solution to the worsening living conditions. Last December the Nigerian people were shown a towering Rice Pyramid in Abuja to convey the false impression that rice is abundant in Nigeria and that Nigerians can feed themselves. But the truth of the matter is that Nigeria is ranked on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) as the 103rd hungriest country out of 119 countries in the world. Mr. President is accountable to nobody. He takes the people for granted. He treats them with contempt. He believes that nobody can do  anything to him. In the last seven years he has not managed to build one good hospital in Nigeria where he and other big men in Nigeria could go for medical treatment instead of travelling abroad to squander foreign currency in medical tourism.

Like Mr. President, Buhari’s ministers are just doing whatever they like.  They too are not accountable to anybody. Some of them believe that they are above the law of the land. For example, under the pretext of reducing Nigeria’s population, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire (Oredo Local Council, Edo State),  in conspiracy with the World Health Organisation (WHO), has recently launched a comprehensive abortion, infanticide and contraception national policies and programmes in Nigeria aimed at killing Nigerian babies and children. The WHO, which is heavily funding  and masterminding the project,  boasts that it would dismantle all legal, religious and cultural and philosophical principles in Nigeria in order to pave way for killing of Nigerian babies through abortion. To this effect, the WHO has invested billions of dollars in getting Nigerian ladies and girls to procure abortion otherwise called “family planning (FP) services” or “Family Planning 2030” or “sexual reproductive health”. Because the word “abortion” is repugnant in the Nigerian socio-cultural and religious setting, coupled with the fact that abortion is illegal in Nigeria, the WHO, Minister Ehanire and the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Nigeria deceptively use euphemisms and dodgy phrases such as “family planning (FP) services” or “Family Planning 2030” or “sexual reproductive health” in promoting abortion and infanticide so that the undiscerning public would not understand that they are violating the Nigerian law.

So, “family planning (FP) services” or “Family Planning 2030” or “sexual reproductive health” is another name for abortion. You will recall that in 2006 Senator Daisy Ehanire-Danjuma (Edo-South Council) sponsored an Abortion Bill at the National Assembly in 2006 under the euphemism: National Institute of Reproductive Health bill. The Public Hearing of the Bill took place at the Senate on the 13th February 2006. The Bill was met with stiff opposition, the strongest coming from many mothers and women who stormed the Senate early in the morning of the fateful day in two buses. I was one of the lawyers who argued the case of about 15 Nigerian NGOs and organisations at the National Assembly in opposition to the Bill. In her defence, Senator Danjuma argued that the Bill was not an abortion bill because the word “abortion” was not specifically mentioned in the Bill. In response, we argued that even though the word “abortion”, was not explicitly mentioned in the bill, the concepts of reproductive health and adolescent sexual reproductive health mentioned in the bill are all well-known euphemisms or soft languages for promoting abortion, contraceptives among school children and teaching Nigerian children the techniques of dating, masturbation, breast enlargement, “safe sex” or “condom-sex”.  Faced with opposition, Senator Danjuma elected to withdraw the bill for possible amendment.  But we opposed the amendment. Between Thursday April 27 to Sunday 30 April 2006, the Senate Health Committee organised a threr-day retreat at Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt for a select group of 18 persons to reconsider the Bill. After another consideration, the Abortion bill was finally dismissed for lack of merit and for being incompatible with public morality and public interest. So, don’t be deceived.  “Sexual reproductive health” is another name for abortion. Ditto for “family planning (FP) services” or “Family Planning 2030” or “fertility regulation”, or  “access to appropriate health care services” or “interruption of unwanted pregnancies” or “safe motherhood” or “post-abortion care” and so forth.

Now, under the euphemisms “sexual reproductive health”,  “family planning (FP) services” and “Family Planning 2030”,  Minister Ehanire is conspiring with the WHO to abort Nigerian women and school girls in order to reduce the Nigerian population. WHO claims that abortion is a human right in Nigeria (Human right my foot). As I scribble this I have in front of me documents issued by the WHO on the means it is employing in killing Nigerian babies.  To start with, the WHO has flooded Nigeria with all sorts of instruments used for procuring surgical abortion. One of such instruments is the Vacuum Aspiration for aborting 14 weeks pregnancy. As complement to Vacuum Aspiration, the WHO recommends dilation and evacuation (D & E) by generalist medical practitioners and specialist medical practitioners, traditional and complementary medical practitioners, midwives and associative and advanced clinicians. For aborting 12 pregnancy, Ehanire, the Federal Ministry of Health  and WHO shall be using “200 mg mifepristone which will be administered orally, followed 1-2 days by 800 misoprostol administered vaginally, sublingually or buccally. The minimum recommended interval between use of mifepristone and misoprostol is 24 hours”.

The pertinent question is: Why is Minister Ehanire, Federal Ministry of Health conspiring with the WHO in violating the Nigerian law? Pursuant to the combined effect of sections 228, 229,230 and 328 of the Criminal Code (and their equivalent provisions in the Penal Code), abortion is illegal in Nigeria. In fact, section 230 of the Criminal Code specifically states that anybody who supplies any drug, substance, or contraceptive or any instrument to any girl or woman that is intended to be unlawfully used to procure abortion or infanticide on the girl or the woman is guilty of a felony and is liable upon conviction to three years imprisonment. Besides, section 33 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees the right to life. It states that no person shall be deprived of his/her life except in execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he/she has been found guilty in Nigeria. Section 17 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the Nigerian social order is, among other things, founded on the sanctity of the human person. Equally section 38 of the constitution guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion: it stipulates that every person in Nigeria is entitled to propagate his/her religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.  

If abortion is a crime in Nigeria, why are Minister Ehanire, Federal Ministry of Health and the WHO wooing Nigerian ladies and girls into committing the crime of abortion?. Ours is a society which ought to be governed by law and not by the whims and caprices of the powerful in the society. It is sickening that many years after the transition from military to civil rule the Federal Ministry of Health is disobeying the law of the land. Minister Ehanire should realise that under the present civilian dispensation the rule of law ought to prevail above any arbitrary or capricious exercise of power. Democracy sans the rule of law cannot facilitate democratic dividend. By virtue of section 17 of our Constitution, the government is obliged to improve the welfare of Nigerian citizens by ensuring that they have access to adequate medical and health facilities as well as improve the medical facilities in our hospitals.

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