Nigerians on social media and off social media are reacting to the bill criminalising payment of ransom to kidnappers.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill for a second reading to slam 15 years’ imprisonment on anyone caught paying ransom.
This bill comes amidst rising insecurity and thriving kidnapping across the country. Travelling on some highways across the country have become dangerous in recent times. One of the most notorious highways are the Abuja Kaduna highway, Abuja-Lokoja express and several others.
In the Southwest, kidnapping for ransom prompted governors of the region to form the Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun. Just recently, southern governors banned open grazing and made other eleven security resolutions.
Mass abductions have also been perpetrated in some parts of the country. These started in 2014 with the infamous abduction of the Chibok girls. After then, the country has had a series of abductions, with some still in captivity.
The Bill, sponsored by Sen Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, seeks to amend the terrorism prevention act.
Speaking with newsmen, Amir Bala, who works in Abuja but whose family lives in Kaduna, said train stations in Abuja are enjoying more patronage, not due to the convenience alone, but because of the fear of being kidnapped on the road.
“It is an extra cost to go down to either Idu or Kubwa station, but people are scared of using that road. Even at the stations, you will see army generals and even those lawmakers making the same law.
“In the event that a family member is kidnapped and the security personnel are unable to get them, will you fold your arm? Losing money is better than losing your life.”
On social media, the reaction to the bill has been more of criticism, rather than acceptance.
A Twitter user, Demola of Lagos, with user name @Omogbajabiamila, faulted the bill, noting that “You can’t protect people from kidnappers. You can’t rescue those already kidnapped. Yet, you want to imprison those that are willing to pay ransom to get their loved ones out of captivity.”
“What kind of place is this?”
Popular CSO, Enough is Enough also weighs in on the bill. EIE accused the government of attempting to blame the victims for the attacks.
“The elected government of any nation is responsible for the safety and security of the people. But today in Nigeria, the victim takes the blame for being attacked.”
Speaking to newsmen, Rasheed Bakare, a legal practitioner, said in the event that the government fails in its core function, citizens are allowed to seek redress.
“Section 5 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) entrusted by empowering the President and Governors with executive powers to uphold the tenets of the constitution by ensuring among other things security and protection of her citizens and properties and coordinating good governance. Where the Executive arm has failed hitherto, the citizens could not be crucified for bending towards negotiation for the release of their loved ones. Placing jail terms for giving or offering ransom should outrightly be discouraged and set aside.”
The committee on Judiciary will still have to conduct a public hearing on the bill.
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