Kidnapping: Nigerian Senate passes bill prescribing life imprisonment for offenders

Nigerian Senate on Tuesday passed a bill which prescribes life jail to replace the current 10 years maximum sentence for kidnappers.

These resolutions of the Senate followed the third reading and passage of “A bill for an Act to amend the Criminal Code Act CAP. C.38, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.”

The bill sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) seeks to delete the statute of limitation on defilement, increase punishment for the offence of kidnapping, and remove gender restrictions in the offence of rape and other related matters.

The bill provided for a life sentence for persons found guilty of kidnapping as against the provisions of Section 363 of the Act, which proffer the punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10 years, where the offence of kidnapping is established.

The bill noted that the frequency of kidnapping across the federation and the resultant trauma, not to mention the number of lives lost to the crime, makes it imperative to review the laws with a view to ensuring appropriate punishment for perpetrators as well as serve as deterrence to would be perpetrators.

The bill also eliminated the present time frame for reporting and prosecuting defilement cases in the country.

It also removed gender restrictions on the offence of rape by explaining that both male and female could be raped.

According to the lawmakers, when the bill becomes law, an offence of defilement or rape would be actionable perpetually.

Chairman, Senate Committees on Judiciary, Human and Legal Matters, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele, noted that aim of criminal law and criminal justice system is not only for punishment but also for deterrence, retribution, restoration and rehabilitation of offenders.

He insisted that where a law fails to achieve any of its main objectives, it becomes inherently defective, therefore the need for the amendment of such Iaws to bring them into conformity with best practices.

He said that the amendment of the Criminal Code Act was in response to the observed anomalies.

He said: “Therefore, the amendment to the Criminal Code Act that is being proposed, is a welcome development to our criminal justice system.

“Firstly, it should be noted that the proposition to delete statute of limitation on the prosecution of offences under section 218 and 221 of the Criminal Code Act, is a welcome development as the statute of limitation, placed on defilement and rape, negates the principles of natural law, equity and good conscience.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that anyone, who has carnal nowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen (13) or a girl being of or above the age of thirteen (13) and under the age of sixteen (16) or attempts to commit same offences, may not be punished, as prosecution of such offence is barred after the expiration of two (2) months from the date of commission of the offence by virtue of statute of limitation.

“Furthermore, section 357 of the Criminal Code Act, defines rape as an offence against women.

“However, in recent times, there are incidences of non-consensual sex, perpetrated against the male gender.

“Therefore, the passage of this Bill will ensure that our laws and jurisprudence evolve in tandem with the rest of the world.”

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