Senate passes for second reading bill to amend the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act

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By Haruna Salami

A bill to amend the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act scaled second reading in the Senate at plenary on Tuesday.

Titled “A Bill for an Act to repeal the violence against persons prohibition Act 2015 and enact the violence against persons prohibition Bill, 2024.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, the sponsor, Senator Isah Jibrin (Kogi East) said bill is “to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders and for related matters, 2024”.

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Senator Jibrin said the Act was enacted in 2015 against the backdrop of the rising cases of violence, especially domestic violence against women.

“The initial Bill sought protection for women from (male domination) violence.

“In the face of opposition to its obvious gender bias nature, the promoters renamed it, tinkered with some of its provisions, introduced seemingly gender-neutral language, and successfully obtained its passage.

“It’s explanatory memorandum states that it prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life and provides protection and remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.

“Upon close scrutiny of the Act, it becomes obvious that it contains provisions that are inimical to the realisation of its objectives.”

He, however, said that going through the provisions of the Act, it showed that it was plagued by substantial and drafting challenges.

“This underscores the necessity for a holistic reform of the Act to bring the provisions in line with the realities of societal change and drafting standards to effective dispensation of justice”.

He said that some of the major areas of concern in the Act included several strict liability offences.

“These are instances where mental element is not needed, but only the physical element, which is all required to complete the offence.

“This therefore calls for a review to introduce elements of intention”.

“The Act contains inadequate provisions for compensation of the victims of violence.

“The penal focus is on fines and imprisonment, with little on compensation. In addition to the punishments, it is better, by way of reparation for victims, to make adequate provisions relating to compensation”.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio said “we take congnisance of ethnic diversity but we must protect our children.

He thereafter referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative action to report back in six weeks.

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