Discordant Tunes Over Death Penalty For Looters | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Cover Choice, POLITICS

Discordant Tunes Over Death Penalty For Looters

Posted: Sep 20, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Cover ChoiceThe Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) last week said looters should be given the death sentence in order to serve as deterrence to others.  To demonstrate to Nigerians that the congress is committed to the agitation, members across major cities in the country stage  peaceful protests in support of the present administration’s effort at curtailing corruption and prosecute offenders.  The present administration has promised to Nigerians that it is not going to be business as usual for those who use their public positions to corruptly enrich themselves in the country.

But some governors are not in support of the idea that looters should be sentenced to death. Instead of death sentence, they preferred life jail. The governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun is one of the governors that strongly opposed labour union’s agitation of life sentence.   “Unfortunately as a governor, I cannot be saying that capital punishment should be meted out to corrupt public officials. Because I cannot say that, that is why I will say that anybody that is found wanting, whether you are governor or any other public officer should be jailed for life.” He said. The governors decision to oppose death sentence was based on their belief that it would not be the right solution to corruption in the country. They cited cases of countries that adopted death sentence without reduction of corruption to buttress their argument.

While lawyers on their part are in support of labour and civil society groups for showing solidarity over government anti-corruption policy, they did not support the clamour for capital punishment because of the constitutional provision on the matter.  Chief Ladi Williams (SAN), who hailed the action of the workers, said the Nigeria Labour Congress has the right to make the demands for death sentence for all corrupt public officials, but regretted that  the statute of the country does not have provision for capital punishment. He stated that the demand is not consistent with the constitution.  “Until the law is amended, I don’t think a judge has the power to pass death sentence on anybody,” he said.

Similarly, a constitutional lawyer and Chairman of Anti-corruption Advisory Committee, Prof. Itse Sagay applauded members of Nigeria Labour Congress and Civil Societies Organisation for  their show of solidarity  but described the request as unconstitutional.  “The demand for death penalty for corrupt officials is a bit extreme. I have always been guided by the fact that once a life is taken, it can’t be restored”, he said.  The legal expert also supports the campaign against restraining injunction by corrupt people to derail justice.

“I totally support the campaign against the use of restraining injunction by corrupt people to prevent being prosecuted. Any judge who issues that should be regarded as guilty of gross misconduct and his job put on the line”. Despite the rejection of death sentence by some governors and legal experts,  the common people who  suffers most from corruption believe that it is right time the government take a decisive action to curtail looting of public treasuries in the country.  The looting of treasuries has resulted in the inability of government at all levels to deliver on dividends of democracy which affect them most.