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Insecurity: Senate mulls life imprisonment for kidnappers

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Senate President, Ahmad Lawan
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…proposes 30 years jail term for ransom collection  

 

A bill proposing life imprisonment for the offence of kidnapping or any form of abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement on Tuesday passed second reading in the Senate.

The bill sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) seeks to, among others, introduce stiffer punishments and punitive measures to combat and prevent kidnapping in Nigeria.

Leading debate on the bill, Senator Amosun observed that kidnapping is a major security challenge confronting Nigeria in recent times.

According to the lawmaker, the light punishment for the offence has continued to make it grow and assume horrendous dimensions with a negative impact on the economy.

“The impact of kidnapping on both economic and daily life has been devastating.

“For many Nigerians, kidnapping is far more devastating than the carnage of Boko Haram in the northeast, or the carnage in the middle belt over land, pasture and water use between farmers and herders.

“In the rich oil south-south, kidnapping is often seem as a manifestation of the insurrection over how oil revenue is distributed.

“Overtime, the pool of potential victims has shockingly been expanded. No, most victims are often poor villagers, sometimes kidnapped indiscriminately, a departure from the targeted kidnapping of wealthy people. They struggle to pay ransoms because of their relative poverty; and this has resulted into many victims being killed in the process”, he said.

Amosun lamented that, “Nigeria has one of the rates of kidnaps for ransom of both locals and foreigners in all of Africa.”

He added, “while the insurgents in the North East now thrive on the proceeds of kidnappings, criminal

elements in the South East and South West are also having a field day. In fact, kidnapping has now become a big and lucrative business.”

Citing recent statistics released by Neil Young Associates International – a specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy group – the lawmaker noted that Nigeria accounted for 26 percent of kidnapping and ransom incidents globally.

Similarly, Amosun said that a Vanguard report published online on the July 13, 2021, states that an average of 13 persons were abducted daily in Nigeria in the first half of 2021, bringing to 2,371 the number of reported persons kidnapped in the country within the first six months of the year.

He bemoaned the worrisome development, warning that the trend has the potential of negatively affecting Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment.

The lawmaker stated that the bill, therefore, seeks to introduce stiffer punishment for the offence of abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement for ransom.

“This bill also provides more punitive measures

for ancillary crimes flowing from the commission of the crime of abduction, like death or grievous harm.

“To achieve the deterrent effect, life imprisonments is proposed for the offence of kidnapping, particularly where death results from the act.

“The law is made stricter by ensuring that recipients of any proceeds of the act of kidnapping are heavily sanctioned with term of imprisonment of up to 30 years”, Amosun said.

The bill, according to him, also proposes to give the Inspector General of Police wider powers to enable adequate policing of the crime of kidnapping.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill after it was exhaustively debated, to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele was given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.

Meanwhile, the Senate President on Tuesday referred President Buhari’s request to approve $4.054bn, €710m external borrowing, and $125m

grant component captured for projects under the 2018 – 2021 borrowing plan to the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.

The Committee chaired by Senator Clifford Ordia was given one week to report back to the Senate.

Buhari in a letter dated August 24, 2021, explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chatered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.

He added that the amount would be used to fund Federal and States Government projects cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID-19 Response efforts.

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Defence and Security

Army Has No Desire To Truncate Nigeria’s Democracy — COAS

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Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja
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The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, on Tuesday, restated the commitment of the Nigerian Army to defend the nation’s choice of government, democracy.

Addressing participants at a seminar on career planning and management organised by the Army headquarters, the COAS said the Army has no plans to truncate democracy in the country.

He charged officers of the Nigerian Army to remain above board in the discharge of their professional duties.

“Permit me to seize this opportunity to reiterate that the Armed Forces of Nigeria, particularly the Nigerian Army has come to terms with the country’s choice of democracy as the preferred system of governance,” he said during his address to officers.

“We are therefore agents of democracy and have no desire to truncate it. The Nigerian Army will continue to defend our constitution and not suspend it for whatever reason.

“It is the duty of our elected leaders to lead while the military does its job as enshrined in our constitution. Nigerian Army personnel must therefore remain professional and be above board as they discharge their constitutional duties.”

The commitment by the COAS followed the series of putsches in West and Central Africa which have experienced at least seven military takeovers in the last four years.

Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and most recently, Niger Republic — all members of the Economic Community of Western African States ( ECOWAS) — have pulled out from the regional bloc in last four years. Outside of West Africa, Chad and Sudan also experienced military coups in 2021.

 

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Defence and Security

Economic: Defence Chief Warns Coup Advocates

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The Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, has warned against advocating for a coup due to economic hardship, emphasizing patience and the superiority of democracy.

He made this known on Thursday while speaking with journalists at the Nigerian Army 6 Division Headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, after commissioning some building projects.

General Musa urged individuals promoting military takeover to cease such statements.

The Chief of Defence Staff had earlier commissioned the newly constructed Entrance Gate and Officers Transit Accommodation at the 6 Division Headquarters.

Protests have occurred in Ogun, Oyo, Kano, Niger and some parts of the country in the last few weeks over the hardship experienced in the country as Nigerians lament food inflation, high cost of living, amongst other harsh living conditions occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidy, forex crisis, amongst others.

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Defence and Security

Security: Bill To Introduce State Police Scales Second Reading

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Federal House of Representatives
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A Constitution Amendment Bill to introduce state police has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill, which was sponsored by 13 members of the House, enjoyed support from majority of the lawmakers in the green chamber who believed that concerns of political victimisation by state governors, should take the backseat to the current state of insecurity across the country.

Last week, President Bola Tinubu and 36 state governors considered the creation of state police as solution to the menacing security challenges like kidnapping and banditry ubiquitous in the country.

State police has been a subject of controversy since the Seventh National Assembly and has failed to make it through the amendment phase.

Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had recently restated their position on state policing, as the solution to the country’s worsening security situation, lamenting that Nigeria is “almost on the road to Venezuela”.

Also, regional socio-political groups such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, and the Northern Elders’ Forum, have repeatedly called for state police as solution the myriad of increasing security challenges confronting the nation.

Already, states in the South-West geopolitical zone have formed the Amotekun while their counterparts in the South-East also created state-owned security outfit Ebube Agu. The Benue Guards has also been operational in Benue State in the North Central while states like Katsina, Zamfara and other bandit-prone sub-nationals have also come up with similar state-established outfits.

However, these outfits have not been effective as anticipated as they don’t have the backing of the Federal Government or the Presidency while states continue to demand that Amotekun, Ebube Agu and others are granted license to bear assault rifles like AK-47 to confront lethal gun-toting marauders.

 

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