The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill imposing jail terms of at least 15 years for paying a ransom to free kidnap victims, and made abduction punishable by death in cases where victims die.
The bill, which amends the terrorism law, mandates the death penalty for convicted kidnappers where the abduction leads to loss of life, and life imprisonment in other cases.
Opeyemi Bamidele, chairman of the Senate’s judiciary, human rights and legal committee, told the Senate that making ransom payment punishable with jail would “discourage the rising spate of kidnapping and abduction for ransom in Nigeria, which is fast spreading across the country”.
The bill will be debated in the lower House of Representatives before being sent for the president to sign.
Armed gangs operating mostly in northeastern and north-central states have in the last ten years spread terror through kidnappings for ransom, targeting students, villagers and motorists on highways. They have also killed thousands of people.
Though the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has classified armed kidnapping gangs, as terrorists this year, the administration has not been able to reduce the spate of kidnappings which are now almost a daily occurrence.