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Bill to amend law on protests passes first reading

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House of Representatives. Photo/FACEBOOK/SPEAKERGBAJA

A bill proposing a five-year jail term for unlawful protesters in the country has passed first reading at the House of Representatives.

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Sponsored by Emeka Chinedu Martins (PDP-Imo), the bill was presented before the House on Thursday.

Martins said the bill is an act to amend the Criminal Code ACT, CAP 38, Laws Of The Federation Of Nigeria, 2004 to further preserve the sanctity of human life and property, and to provide specifically for mob action, prescribe punishment and other matters.

“(1) The provisions of the Criminal Code Act, (in this Bill referred to as the “Principal Act”) is amended as set out in this Bill (2) Substitute for section 69 of the Principal Act, a new section 69,” the bill read.

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“Definitions: Unlawful assembly, Riot, Mob action (a) When three or more persons, with intent to carry out some common purpose, assemble in such a manner or, being assembled, conduct themselves in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood to fear on reasonable grounds that the persons so assembled will tumultuously disturb the peace, or will by such assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion provoke other persons tumultuously to disturb the peace, they are an unlawful assembly. It is immaterial that the original assembling was lawful if, being assembled; they conduct themselves with a common purpose in such a manner as aforesaid.”

It also describe an assembly of three or more persons who assemble for the purpose of protecting any house against persons threatening to break and enter the house in order to commit a felony or misdemeanor therein as not an unlawful assembly.

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“(c) When an unlawful assembly has begun to act in so tumultuous a manner as to disturb the peace, the assembly is called a riot, and the persons assembled are said to be riotously assembled,”

“(d) When an unlawful assembly becomes violent as to commit unlawful acts against any person or property, the assembly is called a mob and their violent act is referred to as mob action.”

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It adds that any person who takes part in a riot is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

“(b) Any person who takes part in a mob action is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.

(4) Substitute for Section 76 of the Principal Act, a new section 76:
(a) Section 76. Mob action against any person or property,” the bill read.

“Any persons who assembled together as a mob to commit violent act against any person or property are guilty of a felony and each of them is liable to imprisonment for life”.

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