The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the imposition of 20 years imprisonment and N80 million fine on anyone convicted for engaging in offences bothering on importation or exportation of explosives either through the sea or air.
The details of other offences are contained in the Senate bill which seeks to repeal the Explosives Act 1964 and enact the Explosives Bill, to regulate the manufacture, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sale, transportation, importation and exportation of explosives and for related matters, adopted Clauses 1 to 25 at the Committee of the Whole.
Speaking on the synopsis of the report, Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason explained that the bill seeks to repeal the former Act and re-enact the proposed one to ensure the control of the possession, importation, exportation, manufacture and storage of explosives for a safer Nigeria.
Clause 20(1 to 6) provides that: “Any person, who fails to give notice or report an accident under section g(3)of this Act, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than 10 million naira or imprisonment for a term of not less than 5 years.
“Where, for an offence committed under clause 11 of this Act, the importation or exportation is done — (a) through the sea, the owner and master of the vessel; or – (b) by air, the owner and master of the aircraft, shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than 80 million naira.
“The court may for the purpose of compelling the payment of the fine referred to in subsection (2) of this section by an owner or master of an aircraft or vessel, direct that the aircraft or vessel be levied by distress or sale.
“Any person who contravenes the provisions of any Regulations made under this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to such penalties as may be prescribed under the regulations.
“Where a person is convicted of an offence under this Act or Regulations made under this Act, the court may direct that the explosives, ingredients or substances used in the commission of the offence and receptacle containing such explosives, ingredients or substances be forfeited to the Federal Government.
“Where a Licence, Permit or Certificate holder contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, Regulations made under this Act or any other law, the court may, in addition to any penalty stipulated for the offence, make such an order for the variation, suspension or revocation of the Licence, Permit or Certificate holder’s licence, permit or certificate.”
In the bid to avoid vacuum, the lawmakers gave a period of 6-month moratorium for those holding licence, permit and certificate to carry on business of manufacturing, selling, etc of explosives for a period of time.
As stipulated in Clause 1 of the bill, “From the commencement of this Act, any person, carrying on the business | of manufacturing, selling, transportation, importation or exportation of explosives for which Licence, Permit or Certificate has already been granted shall continue to carry on such business – (a) for a period of 6 months; and (b) where before the expiration of the period specified in paragraph (a) of this clause, such person makes an application for the grant of a Licence, Permit or Certificate under this Act, until the final disposal | of his application.
Clause 2(1) which focused on ‘Prohibition of manufacture, storage, possession, etc of explosives, provides that: “The Minister may, by an order published in the official gazette, prohibit the manufacture, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sale, transportation, importation or exportation of any explosives except as authorised in the order.”
Clause 2(2) also provides that: “In order issued under subclause (1) of this clause, shall be enforced by the Nigeria Custom Service and the Nigeria Police Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit at the point of entry.”
Clause 2(3) Notwithstanding the provision of subclause (1) of this Clause, no person who is less than 18 years of age; has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or violence for a term of not less than six months, at any time during a period of five years after the expiration of the sentence; (c) or is under a bond for keeping the peace or for good behaviour under the criminal code, shall manufacture, store, be in possession, use, distribute, purchase, sell, transport, import or export any explosives.
Clause 2(4) also provides that: “No person shall sell, deliver or dispatch any explosives to a person whom he knows or has reason to believe at the time of such sale, delivery or dispatch, to be – (a) prohibited from the manufacturing, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sale, transportation, importation, ‘exportation of such explosives under subsection (1) of this section; or (b) of unsound mind.