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Senate seeks life imprisonment for terrorists

Abuja – The Senate on Wednesday suggested  life imprisonment for perpetrators of terrorism acts and 10 years in jail for sponsors and financiers of terrorism.

The Senate articulated its position in unanimous decision by members while passing the bill to amend the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 for  second reading.

The bill seeks to make provisions for extra territorial application of the Act and to strengthen the section on terrorism financing  and other related matters.

This means the  bill amending the existing Act  will make provision for stiffer penalties for persons or groups who sponsor acts of terrorism.

It will also specifically empower Nigeria to seek out any person who commits an act of terrorism in Nigeria and flees to a neighbouring country.

Leading the debate, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, noted that terrorism was taking roots everywhere and it was the duty of the legislature to work out ways to tackle the problem.

According to him, intensive acts of terrorism are disrupting the stability  of Nigeria  especially through bomb attacks, which have left several people dead and property destroyed.

“The highlight of the amendment sought by this bill is the territorial application of the law because terrorism can be carried out within or outside the country.

“To tackle such, the principal Act needs to reflect in Section 2 as follows:

“a person who knowingly in or outside Nigeria directly or indirectly does, attempts or  threatens any act of terrorism
preparatory or in furtherance of an act of terror
omits to do anything that is reasonably necessary to prevent an act of terrorism, assists or facilitates the activities of persons engaged in an act of terrorism,’’ he said.

Ndoma-Egba said by amending section 10 of the principal Act, measures to combat terrorism financing would provide  stiffer penalties against such offences, especially on the sponsors of such attacks.

He said the idea behind the proposed amendment was to bring the Terrorism Act 2011 in line with the new dimension which terrorism had taken.

He said this amendment would empower security agencies to tackle acts of terrorism whether in or outside Nigeria.

In his contribution, Sen. Victor Lar said it was important to expedite action  on the amendment to avoid being blacklisted by the international community.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Sen. David Mark  said the amendment was important, adding that  even if one word in the act was wrongly inserted there was a need to correct it.

The bill was forwarded to  the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence chaired by Sen. Mohammed Magoro (PDP-Kebbi) for further input.

The bill was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate on Sept. 20, 2012. (NAN)

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