The Nigerian Senate is considering a Bill which seeks to criminalise the payment of ransom to kidnappers. Tagged: “The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2021” and sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi, it seeks to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013.

Section 14 of the Amendment Bill provides as follows: “Anyone who transfers funds, makes payment or colludes with an abductor, kidnapper or terrorist to receive any ransom for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped is guilty of a felony and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years.”

This Bill, if passed into law, will seek to impose double punishment on the victims of kidnapping. After being painfully forced to pay money already earmarked for more constructive programmes in an attempt to save the life of a loved one, victims will be put on trial and possibly go to jail for 15 years. Any law that seeks to penalise an already traumatised citizen is an unjust and bad law and should not be made.

Ransom is a painful price that a victim pays when the law enforcement mechanism fails to effectively perform the primary function of government, which is to protect the lives and property of the citizens. It should be those put in government to protect the law-abiding citizens that should be made to pay a price for failure to do their jobs, not the already victimised citizens.

Kidnapping was a crime only read in the novels and seen in the movies in advanced Western countries back in the 1970s and 1980s. But after the Kaiama Declaration of the Ijaw youths in 1998 which signalled the beginning of the Niger Delta militancy, kidnapping of White foreigners was initially adopted as part of the struggle for a better deal. But soon, criminals went into it big time. Today, Islamic terrorists, bandits and armed herdsmen have taken over the crime to the extent of wholesale abductions of students and travellers nationwide.

Kidnapping for ransom is the focal crime in countries wracked by terrorism, wars, massive breakdown of civic order, economic ruination and the failed nation syndrome. Nigeria ranks second in the global top ten of the Costellis Overall Kidnap for Ransom Risk scale. Libya (the main feed pipe of Nigeria’s Islamic terrorism) is number one. Other countries are Venezuela, Mexico, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

The implication of this is that to effectively tackle this crime, we must restore law and order and make Nigeria great again. We must reverse terrorism and separatism, grow the economy and give those who want to be law abiding gainful employment.

Without tackling this disease at its root cause, mere legislation is a waste of time.

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