The CRS Anti Kidnapping Law 2015 & The Administration Of Criminal Justice Law 2017

By John Gaul Lebo

John Gaul Lebo, lawyer and former Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, incisively lays bare the inherent legal framework that emboldened the CRSG’s demolition of properties of suspected kidnappers in Calabar.

Due to several calls and messages bothering on the current demolition of properties in Calabar, let me endeavour to share this information having presided over the House as Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, CRSHA, within the period under review.

1. The CRS Anti Kidnapping Law 2015, was sponsored by then and present Deputy Speaker CRSHA, Hon Joseph Baseey. It was passed into Law, Assented to and Gazzeted in 2015 around August.

In 2015 CRS witnesed the worst case of gun violence, cultism and kidnapping in the state. Stakeholders mapping showed that the neighbouring states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Abia, Benue etc who had witnessed similar case reacted proactively by domesticating a template for an Anti Kidnapping Law. But because, CRS had not done this domestication, most of the king pins relocated to Calabar to continue their operations.

The Law was sponsored, argued and passed into with four implementation frameworks:

A. The prosecution of offenders without bail under a strict liability offence scenario and protection for witnesses and volunteers of information.

B. Forfeiture and Demolition of Assets and properties owned or used for the commission of the offence, including Assets or properties being proceeds of the crime.

One of the properties destroyed by the CRSG.

C. Prosecution and forfeiture of properties and assets of accessories before or after the fact of the offence, especially those who protect, collaborate or partner with the accused persons, including independent private properties used for the commission of the offence.

D. It is the responsibility of the State Security Council, made up of the heads of all the key security agencies in the state, who are empowered by the Law, to provide syndicate mapping and forensic report to the Governor of the crime, criminals, assets, properties and their operations, for necessary or prompt urgent response as the case may be.

2. Administration of criminal justice Law 2017

This law was domesticated in 2017 having been sponsored by Hon Ogana Lukpata. Among other things, we Amended the Criminal Code and criminal procedure, repealed parts and retained other provisions under a new Law, the Administration of Criminal Justice System Law.

That Law simplified the trial process for accused persons, created a summary Trial procedure, covered procurement of experts witness and protection of witnesses and victims including theirs welfare and security throughout and after trial.

The procedure for an order of forfeiture or outright demolition of properties and assets being proceed of the crime of kidnapping or being properties of the accused, co accused or convicted of the offence, has been well articulated.

Most of the properties being demolished have been under investigation for three to four years now. Most of the accused persons having been put under the security radar relocated from the state and returned to their base of origin, while putting these properties to same illicit use, as hideouts for criminals.

I will therefore advice everyone interested to read through this Laws from the Archives or Gazette of the Laws of CRS 2015 and 2017.

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