A Bill which seeks for the prohibition of payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned, or wrongfully confined, Wednesday passed for second reading in the Senate.
Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi (PDP Imo East) sponsored the Bill titled: “Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021.”
Leading debate on the Bill, the lawmaker said the legislation sought to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 to outlaw the payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers, and also terrorists for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned, or kidnapped.
According to him, the Senate Bill essentially seeks to substitute for section 14 of the Principal Act 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 raised the alarm that kidnapping has become a fast and lucrative business, also adding “it has now remained the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria and the most pervasive and intractable violent crime in the country.”
Onyewuchi also lamented that the frequency at which persons were kidnapped daily puts most Nigerians at risk.
“Kidnapping is on the increase in Nigeria and it is prevalent across all the geopolitical zones.
“Some blame the rise of this criminal activity on poverty; religion; politics; deficiency of existing laws; unemployment; connivance of security agents; corruption; as well as 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,” he said on the floor of the Senate.
He, declared that “the continuous payment of ransom must not be encouraged; just as 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 the second reading, was referred by 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.