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Reps to pass anti-terrorism, FOI bills

By Tordue SALEM,Abuja
The House of Representatives will on the resumption of plenary next week push through second reading, “A Bill for an Act to Provide for Measures to Combat Terrorism and for Related Matters”.

Besides the terror legislation which seeks life imprisonment for terrorists with an option of N150million fine, the House will also pass the Freedom of Information Bill, and promptly hold a public hearing on its sections.

The Anti Terror Bill is expected to get accelerated hearing, and prompt passage into law, considering the growing acts of terror in the country.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Rules & Business, Rep. Ita Enang, at a briefing yesterday, said the Bill will be taken through second reading and the House might even go into an “Executive session, if necessary, to make a resolution” on the case of Faruk Umar Abdul-Mutallab and his trial by the United States government.

The Bill, introduced in December 2006, has been re-introduced  by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua for consideration by the National Assembly.

The Bill in its section 1(1) defines a terrorist in part, as “A person who knowingly (a) does, attempts or threatens to do an act preparatory to or in furtherance of an act of  terrorism; or (b) omits to do anything that is reasonably necessary to prevent an act of terrorism; or assists or facilitates the activities of persons engaged in an act of terrorism, commits an offence.

“2) In this section, act of terrorism means an act which(a)may seriously damage a Country or an international organisation; is the intended or can reasonably be regarded as having been intended to unduly compel a Government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act; seriously intimidate a population; seriously destabilise or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country.

or an international organisation; or otherwise influence such government or international organisation by intimidation or coercion; and involves or causes, as the case may be, an attack upon a person’s life which may cause serious bodily harm or death.”

The terror Bill also seeks in part to punish institutions or persons in support of  terror by 5 years in prison with an option of not less than N5million.

In his briefing, Enang said, “We are going to discuss that on Wednesday but I want to add that it is not the recent events (of terror outside and in Nigeria), that have caused us to pick the Bill.

“It has been slated for debate since last year. It was introduced in December 2006 and was given first reading on the 12 of December 2006. The Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo had first introduced the Bill, but it was re-introduced to us to consider by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in October 2009.

He said the House “Would also, on Wednesday January 13, 2010, consider the Freedom of Information Bill.. You will recall that we did not pass the Bill last year, raised some issues.

What we will do on Wednesday, is to consider the Bill again and subsequently hold a public hearing on it”, he said.


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