POLITICS

Senators propose 15 years jail term for ransom payers

The Senate has moved to prohibit the payment and receiving of ransom for the release of any kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined victim in the country.

This followed the consideration and second reading of a Bill by the upper chamber, titled: “Terrorism prevention (amendment) Bill, 2021,” and sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi.

Onyewuchi, in his lead debate, said the bill seeks to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 to outlaw the payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers and terrorists for the release of any person, who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped.

According to Onyewuchi, the bill essentially seeks to substitute section 14 of the Principal Act for a new section to read: “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 expressed worry that kidnapping has become a fast and lucrative business, saying: “It has now remained the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria and the most pervasive and intractable violent crime in the country.”

Attributing the spate of kidnappings in the country to factors such as corruption, unemployment, poverty and connivance of security agents, Onyewuchi lamented that the frequency at which persons are kidnapped daily puts most Nigerians at risk.

“Kidnapping is on the increase in Nigeria and it is prevalent across all the geopolitical zones,” the lawmaker said.

The new Bill, 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, chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, was given four weeks to report back to plenary.

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