In a move that is bound to elicit anger, the Senate has outlawed the payment of ransom payment to kidnappers. The lawmakers did not however say what family and friends should do in the event that security agencies are unable to get their loved ones released.
Experts have said that Nigerians are forced to pay ransom because they do not trust government to come through for them, while other experts, like the Senate, believe that ransom payment fuels the kidnap industry that has gone haywire the last few years
The Upper Legislative Chamber passed a bill seeking to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013, and to prohibit the payment of ransom to kidnappers in Nigeria.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The bill was laid by the Committee’s Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), before consideration.
Bamidele, in his presentation, said the bill seeks to outlaw the payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers and tterrorist for release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped.
According to the lawmaker, “the overall import of this bill is to discourage the rising spate of kidnapping and abduction for ransom In Nigeria, which is fast spreading across the country.”
He disclosed that in the memoranda presented to the Committee, plethora of issues relating to the subject matter of terrorism and terrorism financing in line with global best practices were raised.
He assured that the amendment to the Terrorism Act would set standards and regulatory system intended to prevent terrorist groups from laundering money through the banking system and other financial networks.
He added that, “having policies in place to combat financing of terrorism will surely reduce or eliminate privacy and anonymity in financial and other sundry transactions as it relates to the subject in our society.”
He explained further that the need to comprehensively review the Terrorism Prevention Act arose from the unfavorable ratings of Financial Act Task Force (FATF) recommendations of Nigeria’s Mutual Evaluation Report and consequent placement of Nigeria in FATF’S International Cooperation and Review Group Process with its impending sanctions on Nigeria’s economy.
He stated that the National Task Force on improving Nigeria’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime in Nigeria, proposed improvement on the Act in order to address the deficiencies noted in its provisions so as to align with the required standard as obtainable in other jurisdictions.
He emphasised that the proposed repeal and enactment Bill was geared towards improving the effectiveness of countermeasures against terrorism, terrorism financing and proliferation financing.
The lawmaker noted that the repeal is aimed at providing adequate framework for improved international collaboration, inter-agency cooperation and freezing of terrorist funds/assets.
Bamidele said that, “the passage of this Bill will save Nigeria from being included among countries in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Grey List with its attendant negative consequences, which might ultimately result to international sanctions that would affect the image of the country in the comity of nations.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the bill was passed, said the bill would compliment the federal government’s efforts in the fight against insecurity when signed into law by the President.
He said, “It is our belief here in the Senate, that this bill, by the time signed into an Act by Mr. President, will enhance the efforts of this government in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping, and other associated and related vices.
“This is one piece of legislation that can turn around not only the security situation in Nigeria, but even the economic fortunes of our country.
“We have done so much as a government, in terms of infrastructural development across all parts of this country, but because security situation is not the kind of situation that we all want, this tends to overshadow all the tremendous and massive developments in our country.
“I believe that the Executive will waste no time in signing this bill into law, and it is our hope that this additional piece of legislation will achieve the purpose for which it has been worked upon by the Senate, and, indeed, the National Assembly and, for the reason for which it would also be signed by Mr. President.
“Let me make it very clear here, that the fight against insecurity, whether it is kidnapping, terrorism or whatsoever, is not the sole role of a government.
“The contribution and support by citizens is essential, because our security agencies need vital and critical information against terrorism and other things that make life difficult for us.”
The bill was passed by the chamber after it scaled third reading on the floor.
The Senate, thereafter, adjourned plenary session till May 10, 2022, for the Sallah break.