By Ogochukwu Isioma
A bill prescribing a five-year jail term for unlawful protesters in Nigeria, on Thursday, scaled first reading at the floor of the Federal House of Representatives, Abuja.
The bill was sponsored by Emeka Chinedu Martins, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker representing Ahiazu/Ezinitte Federal Constituency of Imo State, reports IgbereTV.
It seeks to amend the Criminal Code Act, Cap 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 “to further preserve the sanctity of human life and property, and to provide specifically for the crime of mob action, prescribe punishment and other matters.”
The bill proposes to punish individuals who participate in unlawful assembly, riot and mob action.
“When an unlawful assembly has begun to act in so tumultuous a manner as to disturb the peace, the assembly is called a riot, and the persons assembled are said to be riotously assembled.
“When an unlawful assembly becomes violent as to commit unlawful acts against any person or property, the assembly is called a mob and their violent act is referred to as mob action,” the bill defines riot/mob.
The bill also stated that whoever participate in a riot is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years, while mob action is five years imprisonment.
“The Criminal Code Act in section 69 defines riot as when an unlawful assembly turns tumultuous as to disturb the peace, but did not provide for when the unlawful assembly turns violent against persons and property.
“This amendment to the Bill seeks to remedy that by providing for specific amendments to sections 69, 71 and 76 of the Criminal Code Act dealing with mob action and further prescribing punishment for the crime.
“The amendment to the Act will encourage our law enforcement agencies to go after persons involved in mob action and give impetus to the criminal justice system to bring such offenders to book.”, it added.