The Senate yesterday passed a bill prescribing life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of the offence of kidnapping.
The Red Chamber passed for the third reading an amendment bill to the Criminal Code Act, 2004, thereby introducing new amendments to strengthen the original legislation.
The bill was sponsored by the Senator representing Lagos Central, Oluremi Tinubu. Sequel to the consideration of the report by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters at plenary, the proposed law, if assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, will broaden the scope and definition of rape and sexual offences, while providing life imprisonment for a convicted kidnapper.
Amendment to Section 357 of the principal Act, specifically substitutes the words “woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent”, with the words, “any person, without consent, or with consent.”
The amendment bill also seeks to protect mentally challenged persons from sexual defilement and rape through an amendment to section 221 of the principal Act.
The Senate while retaining the provision of Section 364 of the principal Act, however expunged the gender specific term “him” and substituted the same with “such person” in defining the punishment for the offence of kidnapping.
Earlier, chairman of the committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), in his lead contribution to the debate on the bill, said the piece of legislation “will address the lingering issues of status of limitation in the prosecution of rape/defilement cases and the incessant kidnapping menace, which are on the rise, in recent times.”
The lawmaker stated that contrary to views expressed by those opposing the passage of the bill on the ground that its passage would usurp the powers of the states of the federation to legislate on the subject matter; the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code Act of 1916 and not Criminal Codes of the states.