A Bill seeking to outlaw payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers and terrorists for the release of kidnapped persons has passed second reading at the Senate. This followed the adoption of the lead debate on the general principles of the Bill by the sponsor, Sen. Francis Onyewuchi (PDP-Imo) during plenary on Wednesday.
The Bill is titled “Terrorism Prevention Bill (amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill says that anyone who transfers or makes payment to a kidnapper is guilty of felony and liable on conviction to a term of 15 years imprisonment.
Leading the debate, Onyewuchi said the bill was read for the first time on March 10, saying that it sought to substitute 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.
“Hostage taking or Kidnapping has become a fast and lucrative business in Nigeria. 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.
“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.
He pointed out that unemployed youths are turning to kidnapping to get money as a survival strategy and ransom payment must be discouraged to stop kidnapping.
He urged the federal government to provide adequate security, strengthen the economy as a matter of urgency, accelerate its poverty alleviation programs and also provide employment opportunities targeting youths who are mostly involved in these acts.