By Naomi Sharang
Witnesses and persons giving evidence in trials are now to be protected by law as the Senate on Thursday passed the Witness Protection Bill sponsored by late senator Isiaka Adeleke.
The bill was passed after consideration of report on it by the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters at plenary.
Presenting the report, Chairman of the committee, Sen. David Umaru, said that the practice that informed the bill was universally accepted.
According to him, it is for the protection of witnesses willing to provide information and evidence for the purpose of enhancing a justice system and whose lives may be threatened as a result of it.
“The legislation will give impetus and credence to the current anti-corruption drive of this administration. It will also restore confidence in our justice system,” he said.
During the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill, Sen. Kabiru Marafa (APC-Zamfara) said “I don’t think N100, 000 is equivalent to five years imprisonment as penalty for offenders.
“We need to increase the fine, because any person that is given such an option of fine will quickly pay the money. It should be increased to N1, 000,000.’’
Permitted to respond to Marafa’s suggestion, Umaru said “whatever we think is most appropriate should be done”.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the session said “we are committed to the enhancement of our judicial process.
“Those in the judiciary will have it easy in securing witnesses who are now sure of protection.
“We believe that this Bill will go a long way in enhancing the issue of delivery of justice and ensuring that the judicial system is not encumbered in any way, especially in procurement of witnesses.
“We thank the sponsor of this Bill and the committee for finding it necessary to conclude the process in the honour of late Sen. Adeleke.
“We believe this will be a permanent testament to his presence in this Senate. It is welcome development,” he said.