Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has described as stupid, a Senate bill that seeks to prohibit the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.
Falana, who spoke on with PUNCH on Friday, said the National Assembly should rather focus on ensuring they make laws that guarantee adequate security for every Nigerian.
He said the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which scaled second reading during plenary on Wednesday, is the most jejune bill and it will fail.
According to the bill, Nigerians who pay ransom to kidnappers and kidnappers who receive ransom risk 15 years imprisonment.
Reacting, Falana said all National Assembly members will pay ransom if any of them was kidnapped, adding that ordinary Nigerians paying ransom are pushed by the irresponsibility and the failure of the government to secure lives and properties.
He said, “The bill is the most jejune bill that has ever been entertained by the National Assembly since 1999. It is so irrelevant.
“These guys (lawmakers) are just pretending to be addressing problems but for me, this is like scratching a problem on the surface.
“Why are people paying ransom? Is it not because of the failure of the state to rescue people who are kidnapped? Hasn’t the Federal Government paid millions of dollars to rescue some of those abducted in Borno State? The government paid heavy ransom to rescue some of the Dapchi girls that were kidnapped. So, there can be no arrogance or grandstanding on the payment of ransom by hapless Nigerians.
“Member of the National Assembly have paid ransom when their loved ones were kidnapped and even today, if any of the relation or a member of the National Assembly is kidnapped, members will contribute to rescue him or her.
“So, why are these guys not addressing the problem? Why are they not talking of appropriating funds for the purchase and installation of CCTV cameras in our cities, towns and villages? Why are they not talking of appropriating money to acquire tracking devices, and drones? Why are they not talking of motivating our security forces to stop the crime? Why are they not talking of social security for jobless Nigerians?”
“The bill will fail because it is not well-intentioned. Nobody will want to part with money if you have a functional government,” Falana submitted.
Kidnapping is fast becoming a lucrative ‘enterprise’ in Nigeria as the West African nation’s security situation worsens. Hundreds of Nigerians, mostly the vulnerable – children and women – have fallen victims of kidnappers in recent times and their families have had to part with millions of naira to secure their release after days or even weeks of excruciating pains and agony. Some families have not been so lucky, however, as the daredevil kidnappers kill their victims even after receiving ransom.