By Levinus Nwabughiogu
A group, Democracy Watch, has lauded the Senate for initiating a bill that crimilises payment of ransom to kidnappers and terrorists.
Recall that the bill, entitled, ‘’Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2021’’, which recommends at least 15 years jail term for defaulters, passed second reading in the Senate last week.
The group in a statement signed by Jackson Marizu, said: ‘’ Last week, a bill entitled “Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021” passed through second reading in the Senate. ‘’The bill sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi (PDP Imo State) 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 wrongly confined, imprisoned or kidnapped.
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‘’The substituted version of the principal Act in the new bill states that 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 wrongly confined, imprisoned or kidnapped is guilty of a felony and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than 15 years.
‘’We recall that under the 8th Senate, a similar bill entitled “Abduction, Wrongful Restraint and Conferment Bill”, came up for mention. But the then assembly did not go the whole hog. We are delighted that the 9th Senate has resurrected, reworked this bill with a view to making it meet the demands and realities of the moment.
‘’We applaud Senator Onyewuchi and the entire Senate for this patriotic move. Anybody who lives in this country knows that kidnapping, abduction and terrorism constitute a major threat to security of life and property.
‘’They are also a danger to social cohesion. Beyond that, insecurity occasioned by kidnappings, abductions and related crimes weaken and destroy the economy as decent people will be ill at ease to do business in an environment where these social vices thrive.
‘’It is, therefore, very thoughtful on the part of the Senate to give due consideration to this all important bill that promises to stamp out the blight of terrorism, abduction and kidnapping.
We are aware that some fellows tried to criticize the Senate and sponsor of the bill for prescribing penalty for ransom payment .
‘’Those who are criticizing the lawmakers on this score are missing the point. It should be noted that the greatest incentive for kidnapping and abduction is ransom payment.”
Throwing money at criminals in exchange for the release of the abducted encourages the abductor to continue with his nefarious activity
‘’It enriches and empowers him and gives him the propensity to do more. The best way to stop the anti-social engagement is for people to stop paying ransom. Once that is done, the abductor will be out of business.
‘’ The bill is therefore well considered. Rather than criticize the senate, we should applaud the legislative body for a well thought out bill.
‘’We are also encouraged by the fact that the proposed legislation does not focus only on the role the people will play to end kidnapping, it also assigns responsibilities to government. The bill outlines what government must do for kidnapping and abduction to become unattractive to those who engage in it.
‘’ It outlines some social safety nets that government should put in place. They include provision of security and strengthening of the economy. Another is acceleration of poverty alleviation programmes and creation of employment opportunities for youths. Above all, the bill charges government to strengthen law enforcement agencies whose responsibility it is to enforce the law.
‘’As critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project, we at DEMOCRACY WATCH are of the considered opinion that this bill should be supported by well meaning Nigerians.
In appreciating the merit of the bill, we recognize the fact that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is peopled by wise men and women from different walks of life.
‘’A significant majority of the lawmakers are people who are accomplished in different areas of human endeavour. They are therefore not likely to engage in frivolities by seeking to enact laws that will not advance the common good.
‘’For us, therefore, there is an overriding need to push for this bill to become law considering the fact that kidnappings, abductions and terrorism are on the increase.
‘’Bandits are getting stronger by the day because we indulge them with huge payouts that encourage them to do more. Ultimately, the bill, when it becomes law, will knoll the death knell for kidnapping, abduction and banditry.’’
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