The governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has apologised to the people of the state over the controversy generated by the law legalising abortion in the state.
This followed the pressure from churches, especially, the Catholic Church, in the state calling on the governor and the state legislature to repeal the law.
Addressing church leaders at the temporary chambers of the state House of Assembly in Owerri, Governor Okorocha appealed to the members of the House to repeal the contentious section(s) of the law in the interest of the state.
The said law which is cited as Violence Against Persons(Prohibition) Law No 12 of 2012 permits women both married and unmarried to carry out abortion at will.
The contentious section of the law also states that every woman should obtain the rights to enjoy reproductive rights which includes right to medical abortion in cases of intimate assaults, molestation, incest and possible health danger associated with pregnancy to the woman.
But, according to the governor, even though the law was protecting the vulnerable members of the society, especially the women, it should be amended in the interest of the state.
He said his interest in giving assent to the law was an example he saw in Plateau State years back where a woman was raped by a mad man in the market resulting to the woman getting pregnant, saying he was not blackmailed into signing the law.
The governor said out of the 52 sections of the law, it was only one that was so contentious and therefore submitted an executive bill to the Majority Leader of the House in the chambers to enable the legislature amend the section.
Governor Okorocha acknowledged the fact the law was both good and repugnant in the sense that that particular position of pregnancy resulting from rape and incest was good for the victim while it was repugnant to the people’s faith.
The governor noted that he had to bow to pressure because he realized that some people might hide under such law to commit abortion.
“A woman might get pregnant normally and say that it’s incest while it’s not”, he told journalists after addressing the House.
He said he is a lover of children and cannot do anything to any child, saying it was a known fact he is the only man on earth that has the highest number of children with his Rochas Foundation.
Governor Okorocha added that what was paramount to him was the generality of the people of Imo because “a good government is one that listens to people”.
Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly has commenced the process of repealing the law.
A bill which was sponsored by the Majority Leader of the House, just passed first reading Tuesday evening.
It was adjourned for a second reading till September 10, 2013.