Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade on Monday signed into law a bill that prescribes death penalty for convicted kidnappers in the state.
The anti-kidnapping bill was one of 10 bills the governor signed into law at the state Executive Chambers witnessed by the Speaker and members of the state House of Assembly, the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Ntufam John Okon and the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Tina Agbor and permanent secretaries.
The law also empowers the state to seize assets as well as freeze accounts belong to convicted kidnappers and those who aid and abet kidnapping in the state.
Speaking on another bill he had just signed into law, the Social Housing Law, which makes housing for the vulnerable a right, he described the law as holding emotional significance to him.
“The most emotional bill to me is the Social Housing Law which seeks to provide housing for the poorest of the poor in the state.
Various researches have linked corruption in civil service to housing. It has also been proven that given the salaries of average civil servants, if they don’t originate memos that give them extra money, if they don’t comprise, they is no civil servant in Nigeria that will be able to build a house. So by virtue of our salary structure, you have already created a catalyst for corruption to thrive.
“By this bill, housing in Cross River State is now a right to the citizenry, it may not be justiciable at this point in time but we have created a legal stimulus to drive the structure that we can achieve housing for everybody, and in the process, stamp out all mud and thatch houses in Cross River State.”
As a measure aimed at generating revenue for the state from its abundant water resources despite being pronounced a non-littoral state by the Supreme Court following the loss of Bakassi Peninsula, the governor signed the Water Landing and Fee Charges bill into law.
“When the Supreme Court ruling said that Cross River State is hemmed in, and by implication we ceased to be a littoral state, we are today demonstrating with a simple law that that ruling was wrong because the implication of that ruling is that whatever waterways that exist within the confines of the state is internal and therefore cannot be covered under the Inland Waterways of Nigeria.
So we have the right to regulate it.
“We are going to place a maximum figure on any vessel coming into Cross River waterways. So when it becomes an affront to the federal government they will revisit the ruling.”
Other laws signed by the governor include: Infrastructure Safety and Regulatory Law, Water Front Management and Development Law, Corporate Social Responsibility Agency Law and Tax Exemption Law for low income earners.
Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon John Gaul Lebo, who described the legislature as the incubator of leadership said the bills were thought of to help the government better the lot of Cross Riverians.
He said it was quite impressive that in just three months the House is able to turn in10 bills adding that the development was an indication that the vision of the governor is so clear that the assembly was able to translate it into laws.
He promised the collaboration of the legislature with the executive to ensure that the PDP- led government in the state succeeds.