The intense public debate over capital punishment in two bills at the state assembly prohibiting kidnapping and cultism in the state, has been put to rest by the state legislators. At plenary on Thursday, most of the legislators voted in favour of including the extreme penalty for the amended kidnapping law, rejecting the recommendation of the ad hoc committee after a public hearing.

Some lawmakers, including the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Marshall Uwom representing Abua/Odual Constituency, sought for a severe but less than capital punishment for the offence, maybe life imprisonment. But other lawmakers over-ruled their request. Lawmakers representing Emohua, Oyigbo, and Khana (1) constituencies - Hon. Samuel Ogeh, Chisom Dike, and Bariene Deeyah argued in favour of the controversial section at plenary. They said the activities of kidnappers, and gang groups in the state have caused severe economic losses to the state.

The legislators nonetheless, agreed to life imprisonment as punishment for the Cultism prohibition bill. This was voted unanimously by the house.

The Rivers State Kidnapping Prohibition amendment bill of 2018, and the Rivers State Cultism and other related activities Prohibition Amendment Bill of 2018 were passed into law by the house after the debate. The speaker of the assembly, Ikuinyi Owaji-Ibani while ruling on the bills’ passage, said it was time for the state to send a strong message to criminals who perpetrate these crimes.