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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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Akpabio’s Comment On N30bn To Govs Misconstrued – Eyiboh

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s statement that Governors recently received N30billion from the federal government to cushion the effects of hardship was misconstrued, his spokesman, Hon Eseme Eyiboh has said.

Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom) denied receiving such amounts.

Eyiboh, in a statement in Abuja, said the Senate President holds Governors in high esteem.

He said Akpabio urged the “sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.”

The statement reads: “The office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to various misconceptions in the public domain on the statement credited to the President of the Senate in plenary of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the presentation of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance.

“During the session the President of the Senate commented on the payment of an unverified cumulative sum of about N30billion to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.

“The unfortunate conjectures to take away the kernel in the material facts of FAAC payment are rather regretted.

“In considering the well-intended motive of urging State Governments to collaborate with the Federal Government of President Bola Tinubu to facilitate strategic interventions to mitigate the prevailing economic situation in the country remains the underpinning motivation in the comment.

“The President of the Senate is not oblivious to the fact that State governments are functional partners in all the efforts of the current administration of President Bola Tinubu and are also valuable stakeholders in the various legislative engagements of the legislature in creating the nexus between the legislature and the people.

“The President of the Senate has always demonstrated commitment to team building and shall not do less in the circumstance.

“He therefore urges the sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.

“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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Hardship: Afenifere Begs Yoruba Race Not To Join Protest Against Tinubu

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The leader of the Pan Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, has appealed to Nigerians, especially from the South West states, against the planned nationwide protest against President Bola Tinubu-led federal government amid the hardship Nigerians are currently experiencing.

Fasoranti who made this appeal, in a statement personally signed by him, lamented over the current economic crisis in the country, describing it as unfortunate, and urging Nigerians to endure the hardship for tomorrow’s prosperity.

The Afenifere leader said, “As the National Leader of Afenifere, and leader of the Yoruba, I address all and sundry today with a deep understanding of the challenges our dear country is going through at this critical time. The outcry over the hardship, hunger, and price hikes is not unexpected.

“However, we must come to terms with the realities of our national challenges, which the present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is striving to resolve.

“While acknowledging the hardships faced by our people, it is important to recognize that these economic measures, although difficult, are part of a larger strategy aimed at restoring economic prosperity and stability to Nigeria.

“The government’s commitment to implementing these measures is a testament to its dedication to addressing the root causes of our economic challenges, inherited from the ills of the previous years”

He said “As a responsible leader, I appeal to every Yoruba man and woman, young and old, and our fellow citizens across the nationalities, to exercise patience and refrain from engaging in protests or actions that may escalate tensions.

“Understandably, the immediate impact of Tinubu’s economic reforms is challenging to everyone, but it is crucial to give the government the necessary time to realize the intended benefits”

Attributing the current economic hardship to the removal of fuel subsidy and has done great damage to the nation’s economy, saying “It is important to note that the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the Naira is not undertaken lightly, as we all know the great damage done to our national prosperity through the nefarious activities of the agents of darkness within the oil and financial sectors.

“These measures by the Federal Government, though painful in the short term, are designed to create a more sustainable economic environment that will benefit us all in the long run. It requires collective understanding and resilience from every citizen as we navigate through these challenging times.

“We cannot afford a preference for the euthanasic approach of painless death of our nation, where we are propped up with loans and subsidies until a total collapse into a failed nation, while we have the opportunity of painful healing through treatment with multiple surgeries that will guarantee not just our survival, but restored health, vigor, and thriving life. We must endure today’s hardship for tomorrow’s prosperity”

He, however, appealed to Nigerians to give Tinubu more time and engage in constructive criticism that can contribute towards the development of the country.

“I implore you to trust in the government’s commitment to the welfare of our nation. Let us engage in constructive dialogue and contribute positively to the ongoing economic reforms.

“Join me in appealing for unity and understanding among our people. Together, we can weather this storm and emerge stronger as a nation.

“I want to assure you as the Leader of Afenifere, that we are actively engaging with the government at different levels to address the concerns of our people. Let us remain steadfast, patient, and united in the face of these challenges, confident that our collective resilience will pave the way for a more prosperous future”
Recall that last Thursday, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the president-general of Ohanaeze, similarly appealed to the Igbo groups not to protest against the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

The Ohanaeze in a communique issued after an emergency meeting asked the people of the southeast to “invoke the indomitable Igbo spirit of brotherliness and hard work” during the period of economic hardship.

The group urged south-east governors and traditional rulers to take “advantage of the upcoming farming season to catalyze massive agricultural production for sustainable food security” in the zone.

Ohanaeze added that since the apex court in the country has ruled on the 2023 presidential election, the group has decided to support the administration of Tinubu.

“We reviewed with intense passion, the level of unemployment, poverty, hardships, especially the rising cost of goods and services in Nigeria, the rate of depreciation of Nigerian currency, and the excruciating effect on the masses; and reminded Ndigbo that they should quickly readjust themselves to the reality of the times and that the Igbo have passed through the worst of conditions in the past,” the communique reads.

“There is no better time than now to invoke the indomitable Igbo spirit of brotherliness, hard work, ingenuity, wisdom, resilience, inventiveness, perseverance, and capacity to turn adversities into diverse opportunities

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FG To Implement Oronsaye Report

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President Bola Tinubu
President Bola Tinubu
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..To Scrap Many Agencies, Merge Others

In a landmark decision, President Bola Tinubu has approved the implementation of the age-long Oronsanye report.

This is one of the decisions taken at this Monday’s meeting of the federal executive council, at the state house.

The report submitted by the Oronsanye committee under the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2012 has endured successive administrations without implementation.

By Implication, some federal agencies would either be scrapped, merged or relocated.

A committee to be headed by the Secretary to the Government of the federation is to work out the modalities for implementation.

 

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