The Senate has amended the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2013.
The amendment seeks 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.
The amendment bill was passed for the third and final time on Wednesday after the Senate considered a report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The Chairman of the committee, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), presented the report.
The major objective of the legislation, he explained, is to discourage the rising spate of kidnapping and abduction for ransom – a menace now spreading across the country.
He also said the amendment to the Terrorism Act would set standards and regulatory systems intended to prevent terrorist groups from laundering money through the banking system and other financial networks.
“Having policies in place to combat the financing of terrorism will surely reduce or eliminate privacy and anonymity in financial and other sundry transactions as it relates to the subject in our society,” he said.
Purpose of the amendment
The proposed amendment to the Act was triggered by the “unfavourable ratings” of the Financial Act Task Force (FATF) recommendations of Nigeria’s Mutual Evaluation Report and consequent placement of Nigeria in FATF’S International Cooperation and Review Group Process.
The National Task Force on improving Nigeria’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime in Nigeria had proposed improvement on the Act to address the deficiencies noted in its provisions to align with the required standard as obtainable in other jurisdictions.
The amendment is therefore geared towards improving the effectiveness of countermeasures against terrorism, terrorism financing and proliferation financing.
The lawmaker noted that the repeal is also aimed at providing an adequate framework for improved international collaboration, inter-agency cooperation and freezing of terrorist funds/assets.
“The passage of this Bill will save Nigeria from being included among countries in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Grey List with its attendant negative consequences, which might ultimately result in international sanctions that would affect the image of the country in the comity of nations,” Mr Opeyemi said.
In his remark, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the bill, if signed, would complement the federal government’s efforts in the fight against insecurity.
He described the bill as one that can turn around the security situation in the country and the economic fortunes as well.
“…Let me make it very clear here, that the fight against insecurity, whether it is kidnapping, terrorism or whatsoever, is not the sole role of a government.
“The contribution and support by citizens are essential because our security agencies need vital and critical information against terrorism and other things that make life difficult for us,” Mr Lawan said.
The bill was passed thereafter.
It would be sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence and thereafter, sent to the president for assent.
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