By: Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI.
Nigerians have been reassured that stiffer penalties are to be included in the Anti-Terrorism Bill now before the National Assembly, against armed robbery, kidnapping and terrorism.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan announced this in Owerri, during a town hall meeting with a cross section of the people of Imo State, as part of the activities lined up for his two-day official to the state.
Dr. Jonathan, who personally moderated the town hall meeting said the federal government would not allow any part of the country to be used as a sanctuary for kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorists.
He also disclosed that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had already been directed to forward the fresh provisions in the Anti-Terrorist Bill immediately to the National Assembly.
Continuing, President Jonathan said that the federal government would acquire and deploy helicopter gunships to various parts of the country in the fight against kidnapping, armed robbery and other damnable terrorist activities of misguided individuals.
He also said that the proposed new clauses in the Bill will provide for the forfeiture of properties of convicted kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorists.
“There is no reason why a convicted armed robber, kidnapper or terrorist should be allowed to own property in any part of the country. That is the way it operates in other parts of world. We are working on developing and sustaining modern ways of combating these serious crimes, so that we can locate them wherever they may hide”, Jonathan said.
The President equally used the town hall meeting to speak on the lingering industrial action by lecturers in universities owned by the five South East governments.
He said that the federal would bring both the lecturers and the governors to a round table discussion so as to immediately resolve the impasse.
Commenting on the high failure rate in senior secondary school certificate and NECO examinations in the country, the President reaffirmed the commitment of the federal government in ensuring that the education sub-sector, especially the primary and secondary school levels, were positively revamped.
Answering a question on the rate of unemployment in the country, Dr. Jonathan assured that the federal government was making serious effort to stimulate the economy so that more industrial concerns would be built, which will in turn generate employment.
Other issues discussed during the town hall meeting included high cost of food items in the markets, erosion menace in the South East geo-political zone, job opportunities for the physically challenged, provision of infrastructure, equitable distribution of the proposed federal government’s mass transit vehicles and political matters