A bill to criminalize payment of ransom to kidnappers in Nigeria has passed its second reading in the Senate on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria has spiked over the past couple of years.
Nigerian geopolitical intelligence firm, SBM Intelligence, in a recent report, estimated that about $18.3 million was paid by Nigerians as ransom between 2011 and 2020.
Travelling on some highways across the country have now become dangerous. One of the most notorious highways are the Abuja Kaduna highway, Abuja-Lokoja express and several others and in recent times, the Owerri-Port Harcourt road.
Along with the kidnapping of unsuspecting travellers is the mass abduction mayhem, starting with the infamous abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014.
According to the Nigerian Police, kidnappers demand ransoms between $1,000 and $150,000, depending on their victims’ net worth and capacity to pay.
Now the Nigerian Senate has come up with the idea that paying ransoms to kidnappers can be counterproductive as it encourages more kidnapping and terrorism.
Leading debate on the bill, Senator Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East – PDP), said it seeks to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013 with a new section that punishes ransom payments to kidnappers and terrorists.
If this bill becomes a law, a person(s) found guilty of paying ransoms to kidnappers could face up to 15 years jail sentence.
Supporting the proposal, Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central – APC), also opined that kidnappers would be forced to release their victims if ransoms are not paid.
“If you don’t pay the ransom, it will discourage the kidnappers and terrorists. Eventually, the captives will be released,” he said.