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Navy, EFCC Reject Senate’s Bill To Criminalise Paying Ransom To Kidnappers

Channels Television  
Updated February 18, 2022
A file photo of lawmakers during plenary in the Senate.

 

The Nigerian Navy and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have rejected the bill proposing to criminalise paying ransom to abductors, terrorists, and kidnappers to secure the release of hostages.

A representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral KO Egbuchulam, spoke at the National Assembly, Abuja during a public hearing on Terrorism Prevention Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, which seeks to outlaw payment of ransom to secure the release of captives.

The hearing was, which was held on Thursday, was organized by Senate committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes chaired by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

Section 14 of the bill provides that, “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.”

Egbuchulam, however, said instead of outright criminalisation, negotiation or payment of ransom should be subjected to security vetting.

He said, “It is suggested that the bill could make the negotiation/proposed payment of ransom to kidnappers or terrorists to secure the release of hostages subject to the prior knowledge of ONSA/Armed Forces of Nigeria/Police for coordination.

“It is opined that subjecting such payment of ransom to security vetting and tracking is preferable to outright criminalization.”

Also, the EFCC, represented by the Director of Legal and Prosecution Department, Chile Okoroma, applauded most provisions of the bill but kicked against prosecution of somebody that paid ransom saying it should be narrowed down to those who received the ransom, not those that paid.

According to him, the bill on terrorism is well intended, but the issue of prosecuting those that paid ransom should be looked at, it should be narrowed to those who received payment for ransom.

But the Nigeria Correctional Service in its presentation agreed with all provisions of the bill including the prosecution of anyone that pays a ransom.

According to the service, “we agree with the proposed amendment to this bill”.

Senator Bamidele in his remarks sought to outlaw payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers, and terrorists for the release of someone who has been wrongly confined or imprisoned.

He said, ” The Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 (Amendment) Bill, 202 The Bill was sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East Senatorial District).

” The bill, among other things, seeks to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 in order 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.”