A recent bill has been introduced that proposes to criminalize ransom payments as part of a series of fresh attempts to reduce the rate of kidnapping in the country. If the bill is passed, it would mandate jail times of up to 15 years for anyone who pays. This bill has proven to be divisive and quite controversial with many people including a Nigerian businessman called Lawal Ado condemning it in no small terms.
Mr. Ado who had had to pay ransom fees three times to kidnappers criticized the bill strongly as only ransom payments had ensured the swift and safe returns of his family members the three times they were kidnapped. The first was his two daughters who were kidnapped in December in Buruku Road, Kaduna state as they were driving with a police convoy and a few years later his wife, also in Kaduna. In both cases, the victims were held for up to 15 weeks before payments of 10m naira and 700,000 naira respectively ensured their release.
This was also the case with her mother’s kidnapping when she was on her way to the village in Kaduna; 300,000 being paid to the assailants for her freedom. Mr. Ado said that the bill did not take into account human empathy and emotion and stressed that when one found the loved ones in a similar situation, there would be no choice left but to pay the ransom.
He accused lawmakers of proposing to ban ransom payments merely because they had never had a family member kidnapped. But the lawmakers have kicked against this and similar claims and said that their intentions are noble ones. According to them, continued payments are what are lending kidnappers the will and morale to continue, and only by stopping all ransom payments could their activities be curbed.