By JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—THE Senate, Wednesday, descended heavily on terrorism perpetrators as it recommended a capital punishment for those found guilty of the act.
Considering a report on “a Bill for an Act to amend the Terrorism (prevention) Act, 2012,” brought forward by its Conference Committee during plenary, the Senate in a unanimous resolution, held that there was no alternative to punishing terrorism offenders than death.
All the senators who contributed to the issue, did not spare persons or corporate bodies linked to any terrorism acts in the country as they said people knowingly in or outside Nigeria directly or indirectly and who “willingly assist, facilitate, organise or direct the activities of persons or organisations engaged in acts of terrorism are liable on conviction to maximum of life imprisonment.”
The Terrorism (prevention) Act 2011 (amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed by the Senate on October 17, 2012 and in the House of Representatives on October 11, 2012 but after the development, some differences were noticed in the two versions of the Bill, prompting it to be re-submitted where the Conference Committee was constituted comprising both chambers on October, 2012 to reconcile the areas of differences, which appeared in six clauses of the Bill.
New amendments to Section 17 of the Terrorism Act, gave a clear distinction between “an act of terrorism” and “an act of conspiracy.”
For the latter, an imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty years is prescribed.
A new provision (section 1A) dealing with national co-ordinating bodies in counter terrorism designates specific institutions and vest specific powers and functions.
In line with the new amendments, the Office of the National Security Adviser , ONSA, shall be the co-coordinating body for all security and enforcement agencies including the Attorney General of the Federation ,AGF, under the Terrorism Act.
The new version of the bill stipulates that the AGF is to ensure conformity of Nigeria’s counter-terrorism laws and policies with international standards and United Nations conventions on Terrorism as well as maintain international co-operation required for preventing and combating international acts of terrorism.
The Conference Committee added a new section (30) under clause 14 dealing with detention of conveyance. Accordingly, any person who without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with the requirement of a detention order or intentionally obstructs or hinders any person acting in accordance to detention order shall on conviction be liable to a fine of N5,000,000 or imprisonment for not less than five years.
Amendments of Section 26-29 of the prior Terrorist Act produced a new Section 28 which allows relevant law enforcement or security officials to detain suspected terrorist for a period not exceeding forty-eight hours arrest without having access to any person, a medical officer.
Anti-terrorism act, gives law enforcers greater powers to detain and prosecute suspects and gave judges more guidance on handing down punishments.
Also, the bill gives the police and security forces powers to seal off a property or vehicle without a search warrant.