Don’t criminalise ransom payment, NBA cautions
Posted: 05/May/2022

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) has condemned attempt by the National Assembly to criminalise ransom payment by victims of kidnapping without tackling the cause of kidnapping.

Chairman, NBA-SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani, said the law does not reflect reality in any given society.

He spoke while addressing reporters at the Bar Centre, Ikeja about the activities of the NBA-SPIDEL 2022 Annual Conference scheduled for May 22 to 26 in Sokoto.

Ubani said the theme of the conference is ‘Rule of Law and Democratic Evolution in Nigeria’.

He said: “The truth of the matter is that victims of kidnapping pay ransom out of desperation and helplessness, knowing that the state has failed and is unable to protect lives and property or secure the release of their loved ones from kidnappers’ den.”

Ubani said it was appalling that the country had failed to provide security for the people it governed, but instead “is embarking on a suicide mission of criminalising ransom payment by the victims that are helpless and desperate to save the lives of their loved ones.”

He said: “This piece of legislation under contemplation lacks logic and wisdom and the House of Representatives is hereby advised to jettison the Bill without any further consideration.
 
“It does not make any sense at all! Instead, the legislature is advised to focus on laws that will strengthen national security and protection of lives and property, assuming there is a lacuna.”

The NBA-SPIDEL chairman expressed shock at the number of presidential aspirants buying expression of interest forms from their parties at very exorbitant fees.

He said: “Nigerians should be on the alert and ‘shine their eyes’ in order to avoid the grave error of the past.

“We must separate the wheat from the chaff, pretenders from contenders. Our wrong choices of the past have kept us where we are today – retarded. It will be a colossal disaster if after passing through the harrowing experience of the past years due to wrong choices, we make the same mistake in 2023 by choosing most of the jesters who are parading themselves as presidential candidates. “

On the ongoing constitution amendment, Ubani advocated a new autochthonous constitution made by the people themselves.

“We demand the immediate passage of some of the amendments to the 1999 Constitution, which may correct some of the noticeable flaws in our federal structure.

“We need more power and funds to be devolved to the federating units in order to correct the current defective system,” he said.

On the NBA-SPIDEL conference, Ubani said the keynote address on “Rule of Law and Nigeria’s Democratic Experiences: The Way Forward” will be delivered by a renowned jurist and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ado-Ekiti, Prof. Akin Oyebode.

He said the opening ceremony scheduled for May 23 would be addressed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata; the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and the Chief Judge of Sokoto State, Justice Muhammad Sa’idu Sifawa, among others.

He said Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal would declare the conference open.