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Senate considers bill to prohibit ransom payment to kidnappers

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…proposes 15 years imprisonment for defaulters

The Senate on Wednesday considered a bill that seeks to prohibit the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.

The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which scaled second reading during plenary is sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi.

Leading debate on the bill, the lawmaker said the piece of legislation 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 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.”

He raised alarm that Kidnapping has become a fast and lucrative business, adding that, “it has now remained the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria and the most pervasive and intractable violent crime in the country.”

Attributing the spate of kidnappings in the country to factors such as corruption, unemployment, poverty and connivance of security agents, Onyewuchi lamented that the frequency at which persons are kidnapped daily puts most Nigerians at risk.

“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 on the fact that people easily identify with individual suffering.

“However, History has shown that even where 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 terrorist ransoms 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.

He advised that, “the continuous payment of ransom must not be encouraged, in addition government should provide adequate security and strengthen the economy as a matter of urgency, accelerate its poverty alleviation programs, provide employment opportunities targeting youths who are mostly involved in abductions and kidnappings, strengthen our law enforcement agencies, and provide the necessary support to end the menace of kidnapping.”

The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, after scaling second reading, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative work.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele is expected to report back in four weeks.

Meanwhile, two separate bills seeking to establish the Federal University of Science and Technology, Lau, Taraba State, and to amend the Federal Universities of Technology Act 2004 also passed second reading on Wednesday.

The bills are sponsored by Senators Shuaibu Isa (Taraba North), and Oyelola Yisa Ashiru.

Both bills were referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further work.

The Committee was also given four weeks to turn in its report to the Senate.

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NISS hails Oyetola on security intervention, making Osun model of socioeconomic development in Nigeria

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Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola
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…says govt’s genuine intervention across sectors incredible

The National Institute of Security Studies (NISS) has commended Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun for turning the State to a security asylum and a model of socioeconomic rejuvenation in the country through his social security interventions, genuine and purposeful leadership.
NISS also hailed the state government for the giant strides it has recorded in sustaining the status of Osun as the most peaceful State in the country despite its socioeconomic realities.
The Commandant and the participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC) 15 of the National Institute of Security Studies (NISS), Abuja, gave the commendations at the weekend in Osogbo.
Specifically, the Commandant, Ayodele Saheed Adeleke, spoke while addressing the people at the get-together dinner organised by the State in their honour.
The participants were in Osun for a one-week  study tour as part of the requirements of the Course.
The Participants  drawn from different security agencies in the country and beyond had come to Osun on Study Tour with the theme: “Global Climate Challenge: Prospects and Priorities for Economic Development and Conflict Resolutions in Africa,” as part of the Course requirements.
Speaking at the Dinner, Mr. Adeleke, extolled the state government for its huge investment in the security sector, saying “We have travelled round the entire state and we have seen several things. We must commend you and your team for the giant strides you have made in all sectors.
“Your government has taken security as topmost priority; you have continuously invested in the sector with the resultant effect on the peaceful atmosphere reigning in the nooks and crannies of the State.
“As we all know, security is the bedrock of socioeconomic development.
If there is no security, nothing can be achieved. It gladdens our hearts that your government has done a lot to change the face of Osun and you are still doing all to keep the State.
“Indeed, your record will speak for you. Whether they like it or not, Osun will continue to remain great and peaceful.
“Our presence here has further exposed us to so many good things you have achieved. We have been briefed on your tremendous support for security outfits and personnel and for this singular reason, we are ready to continue to support you in this regard to keep Osun safe.
“In the course of our tour, we were taken to some of the Primary Healthcare Centres revitalised and fully equipped by your administration. I have seen all you have done in the health sector. Even my village was not left out of this benefit.
“Our prayer is for God to continue to guide and protect you as you move the State forward”, he said.
In his brief remarks, Governor Oyetola thanked the members of the delegation for choosing the State and for taking the trouble to travel down to Osun on the need to proffer solutions to adverse effects of climate change in the country.
Oyetola who seized the opportunity to reel out some of his government’s interventions to ensure favourable climatic and atmospheric conditions in the state said several efforts had been made to keep Osun afloat despite the effects of the global climate change.
Governor Oyetola reiterated his administration’s commitment to continuing to champion the cause of the masses through the provision of quality, responsible and responsive leadership on all fronts.
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SANWO-OLU ASSURES LAGOSIANS OF ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu,
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Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has assured Lagosians that the State will continue to sustain its enviable status as the fifth largest economy in Africa and also achieve its vision to become Africa’s model megacity as well as a global economic and financial hub that is safe, secure, functional and productive.

Sanwo-Olu gave the assurance at the Year 2022 edition of the Punuka Annual Lecture with the theme:
“Taxation of the Digital Economy: The Challenges and Prospects for the Nigerian Economy”, held recently at Metropolitan Club, Victoria Island.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, represented by the
Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, reaffirmed Lagos State’s commitment to improving the ease of doing business through the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and ensuring overall prosperity for every citizen.

He averred that the Lagos State Government will continuously seek ways of improving revenue generation through a tax system that is modern, efficient and effective, noting that it is in this regard that the present administration considers the lecture timely and relevant.

Sanwo-Olu said the State faces major challenges in taxing income/profit accruing from e-commerce and digital activities as the transactions more often than not transcend borders, while the contracting entities usually do not have a fixed base (tax residence rule) in the State.

Explaining that the trend has made it difficult to trace, track and establish taxing rights over the huge profits made by multinational enterprises and individuals, the Governor said the inability to garner the requisite tax income from such e-commerce businesses is detrimental to revenue collection/generation.

According to him, the emerging trend requires laws to regulate their operations, just as monitoring will also help to establish the economic presence of these entities for tax purposes.

Mr. Governor reiterated that the State is always open to ideas, strategies and ways to effectively and comprehensively improve tax administration processes and procedures in line with emerging trends in the digital economy towards maximising its revenue generation capacity.

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EndSars: Osun govt compensates Police brutality victims, presents cheques of N53,290,000.00

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Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola ,presenting cheque to one of the beneficiaries
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…Our quest is to redress past wrongs, set our society on the path of true healing — Oyetola
The Government of Osun on Thursday presented cheques of N53,290,000.00 as compensation to victims of police brutality in the State.
The State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, affirmed that the motive was a deliberate quest to redress the wrongs of yesterday and set the State on the path of true healing.
He said the gesture was a further testament to the commitment of the State Government to peace, fairness, unity, justice, equality, and indeed, the rule of law.
Governor Oyetola, in compliance with the directive of the Federal Government, constituted the Judicial Panel of Inquiry against Police Brutality, Human Rights Violations and Related Extra Judicial Killings.
The Panel, which was headed by the retired Judge of the High Court, Hon. Justice Akinwale Oladimeji, was charged to look critically and painstakingly into cases of assault, illegal arrest, killings, brutality and other forms of rights abuse by the officers and men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police.
Oyetola further said the presentation of the cheques to the victims was a fulfilment of the financial component of the recommendations of the Panel and that the state had also, in adherence to directive to States, submitted the report of the Panel to the Federal Government.
The Panel had in its report recommended the sum of N53,290,000 as compensation.
Presenting the cheques to the victims as recommended by the Panel and approved by the State government, Governor Oyetola reiterated the  Administration’s commitment to continuously maintain peace, guarantee the security of lives and property of the citizens and advance the course of the security agencies through the provision of state-of-the-art security architecture.
Oyetola who appealed to the citizens to continue to be law abiding and always demonstrate the virtues of Omoluabi ethos that the State is known for, said the State would spare no effort to create an ambience of peace and tranquility for the citizens across the nooks and crannies of the State.
“Today’s occasion should therefore be regarded as a deliberate quest to redress the wrongs of yesterday and set our society on the path of true healing.
“Our decision to pay compensation, which ordinarily is not the responsibility of the State, since the Police is not directly under our control, is a further testament to the commitment of our Administration to peace, and the rule of law.
“Let me however reiterate here that the list of all those that have secured judgement debts have been passed on to the federal government for necessary action, in line with the recommendation of the Panel.
“As an administration, we understand that no society can truly progress where the reign of injustice, inequality and lawlessness is encouraged to thrive.
“On behalf of the Government and our people, I passionately appeal to all those who are justifiably aggrieved for the wrongs meted to them in one way or the other to forgive and allow the next chapter of true and sustainable healing to open up for the good of all.
“I assure you that we are committed to supporting the Nigeria Police Force in fully implementing relevant reforms that would enable it play its role of maintaining law and order.
“Today’s event is a further testament to the commitment of our Administration to peace, and the rule of law. As citizens and officers of the State, let us reciprocate this  gesture by continuing to relate with each other with the highest mutual civility, respect and understanding in the interest of sustainable peace and development.
“I salute the leadership of the Civil Society Organisations and youths for their understanding and tolerance over the years. I assure you that we will never let you down as a government in ensuring that we secure your future.
“On behalf of the Government and People of Osun, I express immense gratitude to the Hon. Justice Oladimeji-led Judicial Panel of Inquiry against Police Brutality, Human Rights Violations and Related Extra Judicial Killings for their impeccable services to the State”, he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Akin David Oladimeji, extolled Governor Oyetola for deeming it fit to compensate the victims despite the lean purse of the State.
Oladimeji who described the gesture as a right step in the right direction noted that the decision would further register confidence in the minds of the people.
Speaking after receiving their cheques, some of the victims, who narrated their ordeals at the hands of police, expressed their profound gratitude to the Governor for the kind gesture, saying he has indeed demonstrated that he is people’s Governor.
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