UPDATED: Senate removes time limit on rape charge, prescribes life jail for kidnapping

Senate chambers during plenary. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the Nigerian senate]
Senate chambers during plenary. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the Nigerian senate]

The Senate has passed a bill amending the criminal code, changing the jail term for kidnapping from 10 years to life imprisonment.

The bill, read for the third time on Tuesday, also seeks to remove gender restrictions in the issue of rape, and recognise males as rape victims too.

Another provision of the bill is to remove the statute of limitation, which means there would be no time limit for when a rape matter can be decided.

It seeks to eliminate a time frame for prosecuting cases of sexual abuse by increasing the period from two months to as many years as the victim decides to seek action.

The bill titled, “A bill for an Act to amend the Criminal Code Act CAP C.38 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004” is sponsored by Oluremi Tinubu.

Passage of the bill was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matter by the chairman, Opeyemi Bamidele.

In his presentation, Mr Bamidele said Nigerians at the public hearing expressed divergent views as regards the proposed amendments in the bill.

The Ekiti senator also said life imprisonment has been prescribed for kidnappers.

“The bill will address lingering issues starting with statute of limitation in the prosecution of rape and as well as defilement cases and it will curb the menance which has been on the rise.

“That the statute of limitation has been omitted from the violence against persons act 2015 which is the prevailing law of the subject matter. The bill seeks to amend the criminal code act of 1916 and not that of the states. The bill when enacted will apply to the federal high court

“The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to which this bill was referred, having considered same, recommends as follows; that the senate pass the criminal code act CAP C38 LFN 2004 (amendment) bill 2020,” he said.

Amended sections of the Act

Some sections of the of the principal Act that have been amended include:
* Section 218 – which states that prosecution for either of the offences defined in this section of this Code shall begin within two months after the offence is committed.

It now reads, “Prosecution for either of the offences defined in this section shall be commenced within two months from the date the offence is committed.”

* Section 357 (Definition of rape) – which states that “any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or be means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”

It is amended in line 1 by substituting for the words, ‘woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent’, the words, ‘any person, without consent, or with consent,’
And in line 3, by substituting for the words ‘in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape’

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The clause has been amended to maintain gender neutrality of the provision as the offence can be committed by both gender.

* Section 364(2) (Kidnapping) – of the Principal Act is amended in line 5 by substituting for the words “is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for ten years”, the words “is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life”.

This clause is amended in order to make the punishment of the offence of kidnapping stringent in order to deter perpetrators of the crimes.

The Senate, thereafter, resolved into the Committee of the Whole to consider clauses of the bill and pass it.

The passage of the bill comes about a week after the lawmakers passed the anti-sexual harassment bill.

The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence after which it will be transmitted to the president for assent.



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