A bill seeking to punish those who pay ransom to kidnappers has passed second reading at the senate.
The legislation entitled ‘Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill’ is sponsored by Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, senator representing Imo east.
While leading a debate on the bill on Wednesday, Onyewuchi told his colleagues that the proposed amendment is seeking to replace section 14.
The senator now wants the 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.”
The Imo legislator said unemployed youths are turning to kidnapping to make a living, adding that such actions put everyone at risk.
“Some blame the rise of this criminal activity on poverty, religion, politics, deficiency of existing laws, unemployment, connivance of security agents, corruption, greed, among others,” he said.
“Our unemployed youths are also turning 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.
“Payment of terrorist ransom is illegal under the UK Terrorism Act 2000, while the USA adheres to a strict no-concessions policy on the payment of ransom.”
The bill passed second reading after Senate President Ahmad Lawan put it to a voice vote.
Lawan referred the bill to the committee on judiciary, which he directed to report back to plenary in four weeks.
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