NAVY, EFCC COUNTERS SENATE DECISION ON RANSOM PAYMENT TO TERRORISTS

NAVY, EFCC COUNTERS SENATE DECISION ON RANSOM PAYMENT TO TERRORISTS

The Nigerian Navy and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday in Abuja rejected the proposed criminalisation of ransom payment to abductors, terrorists and kidnappers to secure release of hostages.

A representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral K.O. Egbuchulam, spoke at the National Assembly, Abuja, during a public hearing on Terrorism Prevention Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, which seeks to outlaw payment of ransom to secure the release of captives.

The hearing was jointly organized by the Senate Committees on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes; Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions

Section 14 of the bill provides that, “Anyone who transfers funds, makes payment or colludes with an abductor, kidnapper or terrorist to receive any ransom for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped is guilty of a felony and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years.”

Egbuchulam, however, said instead of outright criminalisation, negotiation or payment of ransom should be subjected to security vetting.

He said: “It is suggested that the Bill could make the negotiation/proposed payment of ransom to kidnappers or terrorists to secure release of hostages subject to the prior knowledge of the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA/Armed Forces of Nigeria/Police for coordination.

“It is opined that subjecting such payment of ransom to security vetting and tracking is preferable to outright criminalization.”

Also, the EFCC, represented by the Director, Legal and Prosecution Department, Chile Okoroma, applauded most of the provisions of the bill but kicked against the proposed prosecution of somebody that paid ransom, saying it should be narrowed down to those who received ransom not those that paid it.

According to him, the bill on terrorism is well intended, but the issue of prosecuting those that paid ransom should be looked at.

But the Nigerian Correctional Service, in its presentation agreed with all provisions of the bill, including the prosecution of anyone that pays ransom.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman, Senate Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Bamidele sought to outlaw payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers and terrorists for release of someone who has been wrongly confined or imprisoned.

He said: “The Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 (Amendment) Bill, 202 The Bill was sponsored by Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi. (Imo East Senatorial District).

“The bill, among other things, seeks to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013 in order to outlaw the payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers and terrorists for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped.”

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