The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday proposed a bill seeking to incriminate those paying for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.
The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, scaled second reading during plenary on Wednesday, and it was sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi.
According to Punch, the bill proposes 15 years imprisonment for Nigerians who pay ransom to kidnappers and kidnappers who receive ransom.
Leading debate on the bill, Senstor Onyewuchi said the piece of legislation seeks to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 to outlaw the payment of ransom.
The lawmaker explained that the bill essentially seeks to substitute for section 14 of the Principal Act a new section which reads:
“Anyone who transfers funds, makes payment or colludes with an abductor, kidnapper or terrorist to receive any ransom for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped is guilty of a felony and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years.”
He raised alarm that kidnapping has become a fast and lucrative business, adding that, “it has now remained the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria and the most pervasive and intractable violent crime in the country.”
“Kidnapping is on the increase in Nigeria and it is prevalent across all the geopolitical zones,” he added.
“Some blame the rise of this criminal activity on poverty, religion, politics, deficiency of existing laws, unemployment, connivance of security agents, corruption, and greed among others.
“Our unemployed youths are also turning out to kidnapping to get money (ransom) as a survival strategy.
“Whatever the reason, it is most obvious that kidnapping in Nigeria puts everyone at risk, the rich and the poor, old and young, male and female, foreigner or indigene, expatriate or non-expatriate, traditional rulers and religious leaders, among others.”
“The reason behind payments of ransom is rooted on the fact that people easily identify with individual suffering.
“However, History has shown that even where ransom is proven to have been paid, the life or safe return of a kidnap victim may not be guaranteed.”
“The continuous payment of ransom must not be encouraged, in addition government should provide adequate security and strengthen the economy as a matter of urgency, accelerate its poverty alleviation programs, provide employment opportunities targeting youths who are mostly involved in abductions and kidnappings, strengthen our law enforcement agencies, and provide the necessary support to end the menace of kidnapping”.
The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, after scaling second reading, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative work.
The Committee which is chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele is expected to report back in four weeks.
KanyiDaioy recalls that a former President, Olusegun Obasanjo had accused the governments of Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari of paying ransom to kidnappers and denying it.