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Senate amends law, imposes life imprisonment on kidnappers

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•Urges rehabilitation, concession of eastern rail project

The Senate yesterday amended the Criminal Code Act, reviewing upward the earlier 10-year jail term for kidnappers to life imprisonment. The move was a sequel to the adoption of the report of the Opeyemi Bamidele-led Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

The bill also expunged gender restrictions on the issue of rape, recognising that males could be victims too. The piece of legislation, which is awaiting the concurrence of the House of Representatives, held that there would no longer be timeframe for the prosecution of cases involving sexual abuse.

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

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Presenting the report, Bamidele had informed the upper legislative chamber that Nigerians, during the public hearing, expressed shades of opinion on the propositions.

He said: “The bill will address lingering issues, starting with statute of limitation in the prosecution of rape, as well as defilement cases. And it will curb the menace, which has been on the rise.

“The statute of limitation has been omitted from the Violence against Persons Act 2015, which is the prevailing law on 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, thereafter, resolved into the committee of the whole to consider all clauses in the bill, before its eventual passage.The development comes a week after the lawmakers gave vent to the anti-sexual harassment bill.

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If assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari after an agreement from the green chamber, the law would broaden the definition of rape and sexual offences.

In the meantime, the red chamber has urged the executive arm government to rehabilitate and concession the eastern rail line with a view to boosting revenue generation and the economy.

The appeal followed the consideration of a motion tagged: “Urgent need to resuscitate and reactivate the rehabilitation and concession of the eastern rail line project” sponsored by the Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, and over 100 others.

It noted: “The Federal Executive Council is yet to give approval for the commencement, which leaves not just the government as losers, but also all the host communities to the rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.”

After an exhaustive debate, the chamber mandated its Committee on Land Transport to interface with the relevant ministries and agencies to facilitate work on that corridor. The legislators further ordered the Committee on Compliance to follow up, and report back in three weeks for more legislative action.

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Opeyemi BamideleSenate
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