By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”A law for kidnappers to serve life in jail, is underway. A bill to such effect scaled second reading in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Friday Itulah, is entitled â€œA bill for an act to prohibit kidnapping, hostage taking, prescribe punishment for its contravention and other matters relating theretoâ€.
The bill states: â€œAs from the commencement of this Act any person who seizes, confines, entices, decoys, abducts, conceals, kidnaps or carries away another person by any means whatsoever with intent to hold or detain, or who holds or detains, that person for ransom, reward or to commit extortion or to exact from another person any money or valuable thing, or any person aids or abets any such act, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to life imprisonmentâ€.
The bill also seeks that sections 364 and 365 of the Criminal Code, Cap C38 of the Laws of the Federation 2004â€, be repealed â€œan the Act accordingly re-numberedâ€.
The sponsor in his comments on the general principles of the bill, said if passed into law, the law will â€œbe a serious disincentive to kidnappers who have continued to traumatise and terrorise families in the country.â€
Mr. Itulah, Former Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly and a member of the Committee on Police Affairs, suggested in his Bill that an attempt to kidnap should attract â€œnot more than ten years in prison without an option of fineâ€
The Bill also recommends 5 years in prison, with an option of a N500, 000 fine for a custodian of proceeds from kidnap.
â€œAny person who receives, possesses, or disposes of any money or other property, or any portion thereof, which has at any time been delivered as ransom or reward in connection with an offence under this act, knowing the same to be money or property which has been at any time delivered as such ransom or reward commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than Five years or a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Thousand Naira(N500, 000) or bothâ€, the Bill seeks.
Rep. Abdul Ningi(PDP/Bauchi), in his contribution in support of the Bill, described it as taking a â€œmonstrous and horrendous dimensionâ€.
He worried that the vice was â€œhappening at an alarming rate, while the kidnappers were not being treated with the necessary seriousnessâ€.
Rep. Halims Agoda regretted that â€˜kidnapping fundamentally touches the psyche of our people and affects foreign investments, as foreigners reading it on the web and reading it in our Nigerian Newspapers would be discouraged to come and invest in the Countryâ€.
Though the Bill received overwhelming support Rep. Emmanuel Jime(PDP/Benue), observed that its prayers were superfluous and tallied with other criminal codes that already recommended several degrees of punishment for kidnappersâ€.