The Senate on Tuesday amended the Criminal Code Act, 2004, expunging the 10-year jail sentence for kidnappers and replacing it with life imprisonment for convicts.
A report read on the floor of the Senate by the Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Michael Opeyemi, listed other key areas that the bill amended to include yanking off gender biases in favour of women or the girl-child.
The Senate, while approving the amendments, said there were also cases of sexual violence against the male child.
The amendments have also removed status of limitation in the case of rape. With the new amendments, rape offences are no longer barred after the expiration of two months from the date of commission of the offence by virtue of statute of limitation.
Part of the amendments read: “There is no gainsaying the fact anyone who has carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 13 or a girl being of or above the age of 13 and under the age of sixteen 16 or attempts to commit same offences, may not be punished, as prosecution of such offence is barred after the expiration of two months from the commission of the offence by virtue of statute of limitation.
“Section 357 of the Criminal Code Act defines rape as an offence against women. However, in recent times, there are incidences of non-consensual sex, perpetrated against the male gender.
“Therefore, the passage of this Bill will ensure that our laws and jurisprudence evolve in tandem with the rest of the world.
“Finally, they submitted that the frequency of kidnapping across the federation and the resultant trauma, not to mention the number of lives lost to the crime, makes it imperative to review our laws with a view to ensuring appropriate punishment for perpetrators as well as serve as deterrence to would be perpetrators.
“Thus, the passage of this Bill would proffer a life sentence for persons found guilty of kidnapping as against the provisions of section 364 of the Act, which proffer the punishment of imprisonment for a term of ten (10) years, where the offence of kidnapping is established.”
An attempt by Lilian Ekwunife to include a controversial clause on spousal rape was rejected by the Senate.
She and Abba Moro from Benue State were the only people that supported the move.
However, the Senate said the Bill when signed into law would only be applicable in Federal High Courts in 17 southern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
“The Bill, when enacted, will be applicable by the Federal High Court, in the southern part of the country, where the Criminal Code Act, is be applicable and operational,” the report noted.