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Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Scales Second Reading

The Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.02) passed second reading in the Senate. The Bill seeks to delete the limitation period for the prosecution of defilement; increase penalty for offences of kidnapping; and to remove gender restrictions for rape offences.

Presenting the debate on the Bill at the plenary session of Tuesday, 26 November 2019, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC: Lagos) explained that the Bill sought to delete certain provisions of Section 218 which deals with Offences Against Morality noting that proviso which provides that,  “A  prosecution for either of the offences defined in this section shall be begun within two months after the offence is committedimposed a limit for the prosecution of offences on defilement and created a huge margin for inaccuracy. 

Sen Tinubu spoke on Section 221, which deals with Offences against Morality. The provision states that:

(1) “Any person who has or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl being of or above thirteen years and under sixteen years of age” and

(2) knowing a woman or girl to be an idiot or imbecile, has or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge of her;

      is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for two years, with or without caning.

Sen Tinubu, said that subsection (1) should be amended to include a “Minor”, and the term “imbecile” and “idiot” in subsection (2) connotes a derogative remark and therefore should be substituted with the word “mentally challenged”.  In addition, she stated that Section 357which deals with, Assaults on Females: Abduction” should be amended to indicate incidences of non-consensual sex perpetrated against a boy or man, whereas, Section 364 of the Principal Act should be amended to profferlife sentences for persons found guilty of kidnapping.

Sen. Tinubu also expressed concerns over the incessant cases of kidnapping, rape and defilement across the country noting that it had become imperative to review the Criminal Code Act, 2004 to ensure that appropriate penalties are imposed for these crimes. The Bill has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative scrutiny.

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