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Senate proposes 15yrs jail term for ransom payers

By Barakat Odegbola

The Senate has proposed a bill that seeks to restrain the payment of ransom for the release of any person abducted, imprisoned, or wrongfully confined.

According to the bill proposed on Wednesday, ransom payers who make payments to kidnappers and kidnappers who receive ransom from payer risk 15 years imprisonment.

The Senate argued that the need to ensure the development was to discourage ransom payment, which would aid law enforcement agencies to target youths who are mostly involved in abductions and kidnapping and end the menace of kidnapping in the country.

The Bill titled: “The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, said the piece of legislation 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.

The lawmaker said the 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.”

Onyewuchi notified 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.”

He said, “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, 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.”

According to the senator, “The reason behind payments of ransom is rooted in 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 senator stressed that “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”.

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