Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, southwest Nigeria, are currently considering a bill to criminalise acts of terrorism, hostage taking and rape in the state.
While the sponsors of the private member bill fixed between 10 and 20 years imprisonment for acts considered to have contravened the law when passed, others have argued in favour of death penalty for convicted terrorists in the state.
The bill, which also provides for the forfeiture of properties and money where a person is convicted, also puts the maximum sentence for convicted rapists at 10 years.
Part of the bill which could not scale through the second reading at plenary due to some grey areas observed by the members, also stipulates that, “a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organization, commits an offence under this law and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum of 20 years.”
Section 11 of the 37-section bill obtained by P.M.NEWS stipulates that any person who knowingly seizes, detains or attempts to do any of both, commits an offence that makes him liable to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
The bill further provides that anybody who aids and abets a suspected terrorist or assists him keep any of his proceeds is liable to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
According to a section of the bill, anyone who provides support for terrorists, helps them to solicit or receive resources is liable to an act of terrorism and could face a 20-year jail term.
“A person, whether or not in the armed services, who harbours, conceals or causes to be harboured or concealed, a person whom he knew to have committed, or to have been convicted of an act of terrorism or against whom he knew that a warrant of arrest or imprisonment for such an act had been issued commits an offence under this law and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 10 years,” Section 5 of the bill spells out.
The bill also provides that anyone caught training terrorists or assisting in the training could face a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment.
Anybody who distorts the information that could assist in apprehending a suspected terrorist is liable to 10 years imprisonment.
Titled: Bill For A Law To Provide For Offences Relating To Terrorist Activities And Terrorism In Nigeria And Other Connected Purposes, the bill also has provisions concerning the role of financial institutions in preventing acts of terrorism.
Where a suspected terrorist approaches the financial institution for transactions, the bank is expected to report to an appropriate authority within 72 hours or be liable to a minimum fine of N5 million or a five-year jail term for its management team.
When the bill was presented to be read a second time, many of the members commended its sponsors, noting its timeliness due to the growing insecurity in the state and country.
The Chief Whip of the House, Razak Balogun, described the bill as very important, timely and auspicious due to the level of criminality in the society currently.
He said as a result, anyone who has the interest of the people at heart must begin to anticipate solution to kidnapping and terrorism before they escalate beyond redemption, noting that the bill successfully looks at every angle of crime that may be part of terrorism including hostage taking, airplane hijack and lots more.
He also noted that the bill was expanded to provide for sanctions against sponsors of terrorist activites.
His colleague, Bisi Yusuf, noted that Lagos is the most strategic state in the federation and as a result must be guarded jealously.
“The statistics of people who have been abducted in the state now makes the bill very important,” he said, adding that through the bill, no landlord would say he does not know what his tenants do for a living.
Gbolahan Yishawu, on his part, said fighting terrorism is not what the state should shy away from, adding that it is now currently causing serious concern among every citizen.
He called on the House to ensure that the bill does not clash with the provisions of the constitution.
Some of the lawmakers also asked that punishment for some of the crimes in the bill be spelt out clearly. They spoke in favour of death penalty.
The Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, stepped down the bill to enable thorough research and the clearing of its grey areas before it would pass through the second reading.