The Eselu of Iseluland Oba Ebenezer Akinyemi of Yewa North Local Government Area in Ogun State, has asked the National Assembly to facilitate the release of Leah Sharibu and others in kidnappers’ dens before criminalising payment of ransom.
The monarch described the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which has scaled second reading at the Senate as a misplaced priority, unpopular and needless.
Oba Akinyemi frowned at the move by the National Assembly to criminalise payment of ransom in the country, saying governments at all levels have failed in their responsibilities to protect the lives and property of Nigerian citizens.
The Senate had on Wednesday considered the bill that prohibits the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned, or wrongfully confined with a view to slamming Nigerians who pay ransom to kidnappers with 15 years imprisonment.
Akinyemi said this in an open letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, noting, “the proposed Bill is not what should be considered at the moment when the governments have failed in their duties to protect the citizens.
“When the security apparatus of the country is in shambles, and the government wants to sanction and punish ransom payers, will the captive now remain in the kidnappers’ den?”
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The monarch, however, advised that if such a bill is to be considered, the security apparatus must have been tightened and the captives should be rescued.
The letter read in part, “If we want the Bill to be popular, the Federal Government should first rescue Leah Sharibu and other hundreds of innocent Nigerians who are still being held in kidnappers’ dens in all the nooks and crannies of our country, Nigeria.
“With all sense of honesty, I totally condemn the menace of kidnapping that has now ravaged our dear country, Nigeria. As a patriotic citizen, I will always support any steps that governments at all levels take with the view to ridding our country of all manners of criminalities, including the crime of kidnapping that is sadly gaining more currency/popularity in our country these days.
“However, I feel the Bill that is proposing a 15-year jail term for payers of ransom to kidnappers is a misplaced priority, unpopular and needless at this precious time because governments at all levels have failed in their responsibility to protect the lives and property of Nigerian citizens due mainly to the poor security architecture in the entire country.
“If families of kidnapped persons cannot pay ransom due to the proposed Bill and government too does not have an effective security architecture to rescue the victims, it then means that the victims of kidnapping will be in the kidnappers’ dens till eternity.
“Lives of some of them may even be in danger in the hands of their abductors. Will that not amount to double jeopardy for the victims’ families? I am sure the children of the proponents of the Bill are not in this insecure country.
“To me, the first thing we should do is to develop a security strategy that will make the Nigeria Police Force and other Security Forces possess the competence and capacity to aggressively confront the crime of kidnapping in Nigeria.
“If we want the Bill to be popular, the Federal Government should first rescue Leah Sharibu and other hundreds of innocent Nigerians who are still being held in kidnappers’ dens in all the nooks and crannies of our country, Nigeria.”