The Senate has passed a bill that will amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2013 to make paying ransom to kidnappers illegal in Nigeria.
After considering a report, the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters enacted the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013 (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
The report was presented to the committee by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central).
Mr Bamidele added in his presentation that the bill intends to outlaw ransom payments to abductors, kidnappers, and terrorists in exchange for the release of anybody wrongfully arrested, imprisoned, or abducted.
“The general import of this bill,” according to the legislator, “is to discourage the escalating incidence of kidnapping and abduction for ransom in Nigeria, which is rapidly expanding across the country.”
In the memos submitted to the committee, he noted that a host of concerns related to terrorism and terrorism funding, as well as international best practices, were discussed.
He stated that the change to the Terrorism Act will set standards and a regulatory mechanism to prevent terrorist organizations from laundering money through banks and other financial networks.
“Having regulations in place to combat terrorism financing will undoubtedly decrease or abolish privacy and anonymity in financial and other assorted transactions as it relates to the topic in our society,” he continued.
He continued, “The need for a comprehensive review of the Terrorism Prevention Act arose from the Financial Act Task Force’s (FATF) recommendations in Nigeria’s Mutual Evaluation Report receiving unfavorable ratings, and Nigeria’s subsequent placement in FATF’s International Cooperation and Review Group Process, with impending sanctions on the Nigerian economy.”
He said that the National Task Force on Improving Nigeria’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) Regime recommended modifying the Act to correct faults in its provisions and put it in line with international standards.
The proposed repeal and enactment Bill, he said, aims to increase the efficacy of counter-terrorism, terrorism funding, and proliferation finance countermeasures.
The repeal, according to the congressman, is intended to create a sufficient framework for increased international collaboration, inter-agency cooperation, and the freezing of terrorist finances and assets.
“The passage of this Bill will save Nigeria from being included among countries on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Grey List, with all the negative consequences that entails,” Mr Bamidele said, “which could eventually result in international sanctions that would harm the country’s image in the comity of nations.”
In his remarks after the bill was passed, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the bill would complement the federal government’s efforts in the battle against insecurity if signed into law by the President.
“It is our view here in the Senate that, by the time this bill is signed into law by Mr. President, this bill will boost the government’s efforts in the battle against terrorism, kidnapping, and other associated and related vices,” he stated.
“This is one piece of legislation that has the potential to turn around not only Nigeria’s security situation, but also its economic fortunes.”
“As a government, we have accomplished so much in terms of infrastructure development around the country, but because the security situation is not what we all desire, it tends to eclipse all of the amazing and gigantic advances in our country.”
“I believe the President will sign this bill into law right away, and it is our hope that this additional piece of legislation will accomplish the goal for which it was drafted by the Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly, and for which it will be signed by Mr. President.”
“Let me be clear: the fight against insecurity, whether it’s kidnapping, terrorism, or whatever, is not only a government’s responsibility.
“Citizen participation and support are necessary because our security services require vital and critical information to combat terrorism and other threats to our way of life.” After a third reading on the floor, the bill was passed by the chamber.
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