Lawmakers have passed the bill with the aim of deterring abductors, but, with at least 83 victims still being held hostage, several have called on government to implement the law on a national basis.
The Lagos State House of Assembly has passed a law in which those accused of kidnapping, could face the death penalty if convicted. On January 5th, State lawmakers approved the bill, saying it would be a practical deterrence for anyone wanting to commit the crime.
The new law differentiates on the penalty based on the wellbeing of the victim. It stipulates that the accused could face a death sentence if the victim died at the hands of the abductor, but that a life sentence could be prescribed for those abductors whose victim survived the incident.
The law also sets down a 25-year imprisonment term for those found guilty of threatening to kidnap another person though any means of communication, including phone calls, electronic messages or verbal threats.
The long overdue law, however, is limited to State implementation, leaving potential victims open for attack in States where the bill has not been adopted. Calls have since been made for Nigeria’s government to act in the interests of the entire federation and society and force States to include it in their criminal codes.
The county’s grisly past in which fundamentalists kidnap girls as young as six-years-old to send a message to the government, has resulted in an ongoing international outcry. In April 2014, members of Boko Haram – a militarised faction – kidnapped nearly 300 female students from their school in the rural area of Chibok. Last year, 21 of the girls were released, but at least 83 others remain victims at the hands of their abductors.
The plight of the girls resulted in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign which received worldwide attention from social heavy weights, including, former US First Lady Michelle Obama.
LEX Africa Nigerian Member is Giwa-Osagie & Co