Law News
Expert wants amendment to anti-terrorism law

A security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has faulted the 2011 Anti-Terrorism Act, saying the law is lenient and incapable of ending rising kidnapping cases.

Ekhomu, who is also the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, said this at the American Society for Industrial Security’s conference in Lagos.

He added that the punishments prescribed for kidnapping by the Act were not tough and prosecutors had to resort to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act to get longer jail terms for suspects.

He said, “The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2011 is a weak and a bad piece of legislation that is incapable of deterring kidnapping- for-profit. The punishment prescribed for kidnapping by the ATA is so lenient that prosecutors often use other statutes such as the EFCC Act to prosecute kidnappers in order to get longer jail terms.”

Ekhomu, who presented a paper on the management of kidnap incidents, added that government ministries and corporate organisations needed to adopt a contingency plan to manage kidnapping situations.

He said, “Kidnap cases will continue to increase in frequency and kidnap gangs will continue to target top Nigerians and their family members because of the high profit and low risk of the kidnap crime.

“Government ministries, departments and agencies must develop contingency planning protocols to successfully manage kidnap-for-ransom incidents. The crime of kidnap is driven by several factors including perceived survival needs of the kidnappers, extreme poverty, get-rich-quick mentality, corruption, proliferation of small and light weapons, moral challenges, and impunity.

“When a relation or colleague is kidnapped, the initial reactions include disbelief, shock, horror and helplessness. One does not know what is happening to the victim – whether they are dead or alive. How they are being treated aggravate the anxiety.”

The expert urged families of victims to report kidnappers on time to authorities before they start making “spurious demands”.

“Under no circumstance should a family keep a kidnap incident secret from the authorities.

“Kidnappers want you to be quiet about their crime. If you report to law enforcement agents, there is a chance that they may be arrested or killed. But if you are silent about your ordeal, then the kidnappers will certainly have a good pay day on you, and escape with their loot.”

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