By Uche Amunike
A bill proposing life imprisonment for wrongful restraint, kidnapping, abduction and confinement has passed second reading at the Red Chambers.
The bill was proposed by Senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District, Ibikunle Amosu and titled, ‘A bill for an Act to Provide for the punishment of the Offences of Abduction, Wrongful Restraints and Conferment of Ransom and Other Related offences and for Matters Incidented Thereto.’
During his lead presentation, Amosun stated that the bill was going to be responsible for introducing harder punishments for abduction, wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement for a fee. He said it was meant to fight and prevent any form of kidnapping in the country. Aside from these, it provides more stringent measures for ancillary crimes flowing from the commission of the menace of abduction like death or serious bodily harm.
He submitted that the best way to achieve the deterrent effect was by proposing Life imprisonment for such offences especially where death results from the act.
He posited that kidnapping remained the major security challenge facing Nigeria presently and the only reason why it hasn’t been eradicated is the light punishment it attracts.
He decried the negative effects the kidnap scourge has on our economy and the way the offence has grown in large dimensions all over the country.
Many Nigerians, he said, have considered kidnapping to be more devastating than the Boko Haram carnage in the North-east and even the carnage in the middle belt over land pasture and water use between Farmers and herders.
In the South-South zone, he continued, kidnapping is considered a manifestation of the insurrection as to how to distribute oil revenue.
He lamented over the manner in which these kidnappers have shifted their focus from rich people. They now abduct poor villagers who end up struggling to pay the humongous ransoms. It has led to so many of their victims being killed in the process.
Amosun averred that Nigeria has recorded a high rate of kidnaps for ransom of both foreigners and locals in the whole of Africa adding that the insurgents in the Northeast presently live on the proceeds made from kidnappings just as criminals in the South-East and South-west are also having the time of their lives. They now see kidnapping as a highly lucrative business.
According to Neil Young Associates International who specialize in crisis prevention and response consultancy group, Amosun confirmed that the recent statistics released by them show that Nigeria accounted for 26% of kidnapping and ransom incidents all over the world.
He also said that an online Vanguard report of July 13, 2021 stated that roughly 13% were abducted daily in Nigeria in the first half of the Year bringing the number of reported persons kidnapped in the country within the first six months of the year to 2,371.
He particularly worried about the likelihood that Nigeria’s foreign direct investment will potentially be negatively affected and therefore proposed that the bill will introduce stiffer punishments for offences of abduction, wrongful restraint, confinement or ransom and more punitive measures for ancillary crimes emanating from the commission of the crime of abduction like death or grievous harm.
In order to achieve the deterrent goal, life imprisonment is proposed for kidnapping especially when that occurs from the act. The law will ensure that recipients of any proceeds of the crime of kidnapping will be heavily slammed with up to 30 years imprisonment.
The bill also allows the Inspector General of Police the greater power of enabling adequate policies of kidnapping.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan referred the bill to the Committee on Judiciary Human Rights and Legal Matters after it was thoroughly debated.
The committee, chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi was asked to report to the house in four weeks.