Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Senate passes Anti-Terrorism Bill

THE Senate, Wednesday, passed the Bill for Terrorism Act, 2011 and other related Matters as amended as part of moves to nip in the bud the present security challenge in the country where persons are killed almost everyday.

This followed the report presented by the Senator Mohammed Magoro led Senate Joint Committee on National Security and Intelligence; Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption.

With the passage by the Senate, it is expected that President Goodluck Jonathan will sign it into law to then become an Act of the parliament against the backdrop that the House of Representatives had earlier passed the Bill.

According to the Committee, the absence of a National Coordinator to tackle the problem of terrorism in the country has affected collaboration among the Security Agencies in fighting and combating terrorism, adding that there was no acceptable standard definition of terrorism and as such each country tries to adopt definitions to suit its peculiar situation.

According to Senator Magoro, PDP, Kebbi South, the Committee in its findings discovered the absence of specialized designated prosecutors and judges to try terrorism related cases as well as the absence of Specialized Prisons, detention facilities for keeping terrorist suspects.

Against this backdrop, the Committee said, ‘’the Joint Committee on National Security and Intelligence; Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes was referred and having favourably considered same, recommends ‘’that the Senate do consider and pass the Bill for Terrorism(Prevention) Act, 2011 and for other Related Matters as amended.’’

Also same Wednesday, the Senate read for the third time, a bill to amend the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, providing for the forfeiture of all undeclared funds in breach of Section 12 of the Foreign Exchange(Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions)Act.

The Senate yesterday rejected the amendments of a bill that sought to remove the consent of a prisoner serving his term in a foreign prison, to be repatriated to complete his jail sentence in Nigeria.

Presenting the report on the money laundering bill, Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti Corruption, Senator Victor Lar, Plateau South  who explained that the bill sought to increase the punishment for false declaration of funds to the Nigerian Customs Service, said,  “The 2012 amendment has removed the limit of ‘not less that 25 per cent’ of undeclared funds to be forfeited in the event of default to include the whole undeclared funds.”

Senator Lar explained further that  the amendment to be carried out the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) as regulatory agencies in addition to the Financial Intelligence Unit(FIU) contained in the Principal Act, adding that  as provided for in section 12 of the Principal Act, only directors of financial institutions were liable.

According to him, with the amendment the bill seeks to achieve,  both the corporate institution, the director and employees will now be liable, adding that the amendment made it mandatory for financial institutions to put in place, internal procedures, policies and controls with adequate resources units and regulatory agencies that will be empowered to impose penalties and sanctions.

Senator Lar said, “Under definition of terms, P.E.P(Politically Exposed Persons) is introduced to replace ‘Public Officers) used in the Principal Act. By adopting this definition, children and associates of politically exposed persons, even civil servants who preside over public funds or take decisions that lead to expenditure on the public purse are encapsulated friends, cronies of political office holders are also included.

At yesterday’s plenary, the Senate did not to pass the amendments to a bill on the transfer of Nigerians serving jail terms in foreign prisons, just as Senators rejected the provisions seeking to delete the sections which provides for the consent of the prisoners, through voice votes.

In his remarks, Senate President David Mark who noted that the bill had been passed by the House of Representatives, suggested that a harmonization would be required as that would handle the variations.

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