The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday considered a bill that seeks to prohibit payment of ransom for kidnap, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.
The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which scaled second reading during plenary is sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East).
Leading the debate, the legislator said the law was aimed at amending the Terrorism Act 2013 to outlaw the payment of ransom to kidnappers, abductors, and terrorists for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped.
According to Onyewuchi, 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.”
The lawmaker was quick to point out that kidnapping was fast turning into a profitable business for many people and this was one of the best ways to curb its alarming rise.
He went further to attribute the rise of kidnapping to corruption, unemployment and connivance of security agents.
“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,” he said.
Citing a report compiled by the Financial Times and the USA Global Risk Consultancy in November 2019, the lawmaker noted that Nigeria has the highest rate of kidnaps for ransom of both locals and foreigners in all of Africa with kidnappers operating in each of its 36 states.
According to him, “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 a ransom is proven to have been paid, the life or safe return of a kidnap victim may not be guaranteed.”
He observed that countries like the USA and the United Kingdom do not support payment of ransoms to kidnappers.
“Payments of ransom to kidnapers, terrorists is illegal under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 while the USA adheres to a strict No-Concessions policy on the payment of ransom”, Onyewuchi pointed.
Do you agree with him? Do you think the bill should see the daylight?