The Senate Tuesday recommended life imprisonment for convicted kidnappers in Nigeria just as it made the cases of rape to be gender inclusive.
The upper legislative chamber also extended the scope of penetration in the act of rape from the conventional one to areas like the mouth , ear and anus , all carrying jail terms based on discretions of judges.
This is as it also removed the issue of consent in the act of rape or fraudulent carnal knowledge of another person.
Provisions to this effect were contained in the legislation titled : ” The Criminal Code Act CAP LFN 2004 ( Amendment ) Bill 2020, passed for third reading.
The Senate in the Bill sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central), avered 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.”
On rape cases , the Senate through the bill , amended sections 218 and 221 of the 1916 Criminal Code Act to do with the issue of statue of limitations by opening period for complaints on the act from two months to whenever victims felt to voice out.
Specifically, while it through the amended section 218 of the bill, extended the period of complaints and prosection of rape act to whatever time complainant wants the case to be taken up , it through amended section 221 of the Act , removed connotations giving window of escapes to rapists at the detriment of their victims.
The provisions read: “It should be noted that the proposition to delete statute of limitation on the prosecution of offences under section 218 and 221 of the Criminal Code Act , is a welcome development as the statue of limitation placed on defilement and rape , negates the principle of natural law , equity and good conscience.
“Secondly, the stakeholders contended that the use of the word “idiot or imbecile ” in section 221 of the Act , has pejorative connotations , which have become derogatory and obsolete.
“As such , their usage should no longer exist in our laws , hence the need for the amendment in line with modern trends in legislative and best practice world over.
“Furthermore , 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.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele ( APC Ekiti Central), who presented report for passage of the bill , said all its provisions when enacted, will apply to federal high courts in the Southern part of the country where the criminal code Act is applicable and operational .