A bill proposing the death penalty for kidnappers whose hostage victims resulted in death has scaled through the first reading and is awaiting a second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
It also proposed life imprisonment, without the option of a fine, for anyone convicted of kidnapping and hostage-taking in Nigeria.
The proposed legislation entitled A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Kidnapping, Hostage Taking and for Related Offences” was sponsored by a member representing Ugheli North/Ugheli South/Idu Federal Constituency of Delta, Francis Waive.
In his lead debate, the House also proposed that any property owner who knowingly allows his premises to be used by kidnappers shall, on conviction, be sentenced to life in imprisonment and the property forfeited to the Federal Government.
The bill also prescribes 25 years imprisonment for any person who “with criminal intent, attempts or threatens to kidnap any person by means of a letter, e-mail, SMS, telephone call or any other method of communication.”
The proposed legislation equally provides that any bank staff who divulges the financial details of a customer to a kidnapper to encourage the kidnap of the customer, as well as anyone who is aware of a kidnap plot and refuses to report to the police, shall on conviction be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Furthermore, the proposed legislation empowers security agencies to enter “any property without warrant when there is a reasonable suspicion that a premises is used for kidnapping.
“If the police or other security agents suspect on reasonable grounds that a person committed the act of kidnap, they have the power to arrest and detain such a person or enter into his premises for investigation without a warrant.”
According to Part III (2) of the bill,” whoever kidnaps any person under Section (3) of this Act commits an offence and shall upon conviction be sentenced to life imprisonment without option of fine.”
Part III (3) stipulates that “whoever with criminal intent initiates a compromise, settlement or refuses to give testimony in court in respect of the offences stated in Section (3) of this Act shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to be sentenced to life imprisonment.”
Similarly, Part III (5) of the proposed law states that “the owner of property whether moveable or immoveable who knowingly lets or allow his property/premises to another for the purpose of kidnap or harbouring any person is guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be sentenced to life imprisonment and forfeiture of the said property to the Federal Government.
“Part III (6) of the law says the attorney general or his representatives shall apply to the court for the sealing of any property reasonably suspected to have been used in the commission of the act of kidnap.
“Part III (7) of the law says the sealing of the premises under sub section (6) of this section shall remain in force pending the final determination of the criminal liability of the offender unless the court orders otherwise.”
The bill also empowers security agencies, based on a Court Order, to obtain confidential information from telecommunication companies, where there is suspicion of a kidnap plot. Nevertheless, it states that where the telecommunication company refuses to provide the information within 48 hours, it shall on conviction be liable to a fine of N20 million for cash request made.