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Reps new bill proposes 15-year prison sentence for victims found paying ransom

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The House of representatives is considering a bill seeking to provide compensation for victims of kidnapping.

The proposed legislation titled: ‘Control of Small Arms, Light Weapons and Restitution of Victims of Abduction, Kidnappings, Banditry Bill, 2022’, passed first reading at the lower legislative chamber on Tuesday.

The bill is sponsored by Tajudeen Adefisoye, a lawmaker from Ondo state.

Last month, the federal government released a gazette proscribing bandits as terrorists in Nigeria.

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The development came about two months after a federal high court in Abuja declared the activities of bandit groups in the country as acts of terrorism — after several calls by Nigerians.

In a 25-page bill monitored by TheHeute, the proposed legislation seeks restitution for “victims of acts of abduction, kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria from the amounts of monies or properties of the offender(s) forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria whether or not the monies or properties are proceeds of the crime committed”.

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The bill also seeks to give legal backing to the national centre for the control of small arms and light weapons (NACCSALW).

In May 2021, the federal government established a national centre for the control of small arms and light weapons (NACCSALW).

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According to the bill, the office of the national security adviser (ONSA) will supervise the activities of the centre and report to the president.

The centre will also have the responsibility to control dealings in small arms and light weapons and coordinate the compensation of kidnap victims.

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Aside from controlling the proliferation of arms, the centre will also serve as an institute where “distinguished academics, policy initiators, captains of industries and resource persons meet to brainstorm and mutually or confidently exchange views or ideas on national or global issues”.

The centre will have the power to investigate and prosecute kidnap suspects or order an agency of government to do so.

‘LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF SMALL ARMS’

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Section 11 (1) of the proposed bill states that any person “who without lawful order, permission or authority possesses, uses or causes to be used any small arms or light weapons commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to life imprisonment”, while subsection 2(a) of the same section proposes 20 years jail term for persons who deal illegally in small arms or light weapons.

‘JAIL TERM FOR PAYMENT OF RANSOM WITHOUT APPROVAL FROM GOVERNMENT’

Section 11 (5) proposes that “a person who for the time being acts as parent or guardian of the victim(s) of an act of abduction shall not in whatever guise pay ransom for the rescue of the victim(s) without the consent, guidance and approval of the centre first sought and obtained”, otherwise, such person “shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than 5 years or fine of five million naira”.

Meanwhile, a similar bill was introduced at the senate, which proposed 15-year jail term for anyone who pays ransom.

‘ESTABLISHMENT OF SPECIAL COURTS’

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According to the document, the bill also seeks to facilitate the prosecution of kidnap cases by the establishment of a special court.

Section 3 of the bill gives the court the powers to exercise the judicial powers vested in the federal or state high courts and shall have one jurisdiction in the federal capital territory (FCT) only with at least 12 courtrooms.

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Naira appreciates against USD at forex market amid Binance clampdown

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Naira has returned to its appreciation against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market amid the restriction of Binance, a cryptocurrency platform.

Data from FMDQ showed that the Naira appreciated N1,609.51 at the close of trading on Wednesday from N1,615.94 on Tuesday.

This represents an N6.43 or 0.4 per cent appreciation compared to the N1,615.94 recorded at the closing of Tuesday’s trading.

Meanwhile, the Naira exchanged for N1,500 per USD on Wednesday at the parallel market from N1,618.489 on Tuesday.

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Naira Rates, the parallel market exchange rate, showed that the Naira appreciated 1,463.098 per USD on Wednesday.

The development triggered a massive selloff at the Binance Market.

Theheute recalls that Naira had continued its appreciation trend on Monday.

However, it depreciated against the USD on Tuesday for the first time since last week.

At the end of Tuesday’s 293rd Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Olayemi Cardoso, reiterated his commitment to strengthen the Naira against USD at the forex market.

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The CBN had announced the resumption of foreign exchange sales directly to eligible Bureau De Change Operators.

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Ghana passes anti-gay law

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The Ghana Parliament, on Wednesday, passed the bill on human sexual rights and family values, commonly referred to as the anti-LGBTQ bill.

The bill, called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, was introduced by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

Press reports that the bill was a Private Members Bill led by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

The bill prohibits LGBTQ activities and makes it illegal to promote, advocate, or fund them, as reported by Citi Newsroom.

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Local media also reports that individuals caught engaging in the activity could face a jail sentence ranging from six months to three years, while those who support or promote the activity may be sentenced to three to five years in prison.

This is coming after years of the bill being in parliament and going through various stages, facing backlash and efforts by opponents to block it or make changes.

In Ghana, homosexuality is currently prohibited by law and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.

According to the new legislation, the maximum sentence will be extended to five years.

This proposal will also criminalise the distribution of materials that are considered supportive of LGBTQ rights.

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According to Citi Newsroom, Parliament approved the bill one day after Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to reject it.

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Takyiwaa Manuh, a senior fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, mentioned to CBS News that Akufo-Addo has not approved any previous privately sponsored bills for legal reasons related to the country’s constitution.

According to Manuh, the speaker of the parliament did not conduct the necessary analysis of the bill.

She believes that if the bill becomes law, it will significantly impact the judiciary, police, and other areas of society.

“I am sad, disappointed and surprised that our commitment and democratic principles in this country appear to be so shallow.

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“This bill represents a real danger to our country, and we are looking to the president to uphold the values of our country and constitution,” she said.

The bill will need the President’s approval to take effect.

It remains uncertain whether President Akufo-Addo will approve the bill.

In 2021, the United Nations expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed law, Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, warning that it could lead to state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.

In May 2023, Uganda implemented strict anti-LGBT legislation, which includes severe penalties such as the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

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Elumelu in global academic limelight as TEF case study becomes Harvard’s curriculum

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In an unprecedented move, the Harvard Business School, the graduate business school of Harvard University, is set to cast the spotlight on the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), recognizing the Foundation’s extraordinary philanthropic achievement in a ground-breaking case study.

The case study, the first of its kind on any philanthropic organization in Africa, is to be launched on Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts, and will explore the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how strategic philanthropy offered by TEF is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

This move by Harvard underscores the Foundation’s pivotal role in empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries and places the Foundation at the forefront of global discussions on transformative and catalytic philanthropy, acknowledging its significant contributions towards fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

In addition to delving into the foundation’s innovative approaches and the resultant impact it has garnered over the years, the event will also feature an exclusive acknowledgment of the Founder of TEF, Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalyzing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed over USD$100 million in direct funding to 20,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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Tony Elumelu who spoke on the impact of TEF on the African youth said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the antidote to poverty, youth unemployment, and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are encouraging our young people, giving them hope through the seed capital we provide, capacitating them through the training and mentoring we provide, and setting them up to create businesses that will succeed and create even more jobs. Collectively we are fixing the challenges that we have on the continent.

Continuing, he said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to replicate our own success and create entrepreneurs who will build more prosperity on the continent and for the continent. It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave society better than we met it. It is not about the money that we have in our bank accounts, it is about the legacy that we make and the impact we create. Prosperity for all is what will create the security, harmony, and peace that we need.”

The Harvard Business School session will provide a platform for thought leaders, scholars, and business enthusiasts to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Tony Elumelu Foundation stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

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