BY GRACE AMAEGBE
The success story of every society is guided and backed by principles, rules made and punishments to govern them aright.
Consequently, as stipulated by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, laws remain binding to every citizen as well as those of other countries visiting the host nation.
In recent times, apart from institutionalizing policies and programmes to pave way for a stable economy and security of lives and property, the number of bills passed into law by an administration forms the success story of any legitimate democratic administration.
Perhaps it is based on this; one must recognize the contributions of former president Goodluck Jonathan for passing into law the “Violence against Persons Prohibition Act” of twenty-fifteen.
The Act which came into existence on the twenty-third day of May twenty-fifteen was first introduced by the then Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba and enacted by the seventh National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Concisely, an explanatory look into the Act prohibits all forms of violence against persons either in private or public life and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishments of offenders for other related matters.
This is to say that violence of any kind done on any individual is punishable under the Act.
Howbeit, the word violence is relative and as such should be explained, which according to the Oxford dictionary says, violence involves causing physical force intended to hurt or kill.
It is also a form of aggression, hostility and brutality carried out by an individual against another.
Without doubt, society has had a beehive of violent activities, Bayelsa State inclusive where cases of rape, defilement, harmful widowhood practices, battery and above all electoral violence have taken the order of the day.
But then, if such law exists why are there increases in related cases?
According to research carried out by a group of media professionals, victims are either not aware of the existence of such laws or are afraid to report cases.
This then boils down to the role media professionals should play in highlighting such laws and reporting cases.
Interestingly, the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act was passed into law as a result of agitations for protection of violence both at the home front and the larger society.
Though the act is an improvement on the Penal and Criminal Code in relation to violence and makes provisions for compensation to victims and also protects their rights.
Violence against vulnerable persons, including women is prevalent in Nigeria in addition to physical, sexual and emotional abuse, forceful ejection from home, and other harmful traditional practices are among daily challenges experience stemming from long-held cultural beliefs.
As provided in the act, victims and survivors of violence are entitled to comprehensive medical, psychological, social and legal assistance by accredited service providers and government agencies, with their identities protected during court cases.
Moreso, it is needful for the act to be domesticated in Bayelsa State to increase speedy process of court cases as currently only recognized in Abuja.
This legislation will need to translate into having real meaning for the lives of Nigerians and Bayelsans.
There is need to move towards a society where Bayelsans and every citizen resident in the state will not only get justice when a crime is perpetrated, but also reduce the different cultural and traditional lifestyles and practices which promotes violence.
This is where the efforts of FIDA in the state and that of “FACE Initiative” must be commended at ensuring the domestication of the act.
Bayelsa State House of Assembly, all civil society organizations, legal practitioners and the media must also rise to ensure that the act is domesticated to discourage further break down of law and order.