THE Senate on Tuesday amended the Criminal Code Act which recommended a life sentence for kidnapping as against the existing 10 years sentence stipulated in the act, in the event of the conviction of a suspect. The bill tagged, A Bill for an Act to Amend the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, also removed gender restrictions in the offence of rape.
Presenting the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, chairman of the committee and senator representing Ekiti Central, Opeyemi Bamidele, stated that the objectives of the bill, sponsored by the senator representing Lagos Central senatorial district, Oluremi Tinubu, were to delete the statute of limitation on defilement in Section 218 and 221 of the Criminal Code Act and amend the definition of rape in Section 357 and provide stringent punishment for the offence of kidnapping in Section 364 of the Criminal Code Act.
In the new amendment of Section 364(2), the principal act is amended as anyone convicted for kidnapping “is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life,” as against the existing words of “is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.”
In the event of rape, the clause in Section 357 was amended to maintain gender neutrality as the committee noted that the offence can be committed by either gender. Senator Bamidele, while addressing his colleagues, said the amendments became compelling as he noted that the existing provisions were inherently defective.
He said: “The aim of criminal law and criminal justice system is not only for punishment but also for deterrence, retribution, restoration and rehabilitation of offenders. And where law fails to achieve any of these objectives, it becomes inherently defective, hence the need for the amendment/review of such law(s) to bring them into conformity with best practices.
“This amendment is a response to these anomalies and is also within the legislative powers of the National Assembly to make laws that are responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people and to also amend obsolete laws that will enhance effective justice system and ensure good governance. “Therefore, the amendment to the Criminal Code Act that is being proposed is a welcome development to our criminal justice system.
“Thus, the passage of this bill would proffer a life sentence for persons found guilty of kidnapping as against the provisions of Section 363 of the act, which proffers the punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10 years, where the offence of kidnapping is established.”
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