Death Penalty: Between Kidnappers And Looters

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

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By Danlami Alhaji Wushishi

“No one can be a billionaire in Nigeria today without being corrupt. If you are a businessman, you would have evaded tax or other Levies like import duties with the active connivance of those in charge”…PROF BOLAJI AKINYEMI

A few days ago, the media reported that Bayelsa state Governor Mr. Seriake Dickson has signed into law the Anti kidnapping and connected matters Law. The law is said to impose the maximum punishment of death without an option of fine on any convicted Kidnapper. Of course kidnapping is a condemnable offence in any society in view of the embarrassment it caused to the nation and psychological trauma it plunged the victim and the family of the victim. In Nigeria, it may be recalled that kidnapping started with the sudden disappearance of expatriates working in oil companies in the Niger Delta. It escalated to the Northern part of Nigeria when expatriates with Dantata and Sowoe were kidnapped and were later found dead. Today kidnapping has assumed an alarming dimension in the Nigeria. For instance, the mother of finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was kidnapped, the Nollywood actress and Special Adviser to Gov Okorocha was also abducted and lots of others. It is an open secret that ransom is paid to secure the release of the captives’.After all there are News report that kidnappers often smile to the bank or where the money is lodged to enable them claim it before releasing the captives.

Evidence has shown that graduates, undergraduates, serving and retired military personnel mastermind some of these kidnap. The conclusion deducible is that poverty has overwhelmed the entire nation. And this is caused by massive looting of the nation’s treasury that is gradually becoming a family affair among a certain clique.
It is no longer News to hear that a public servant or political office holders are arraigned for offences of Corrupt Practices like embezzlement of public fund.  These accused persons wear dark eye glass just to cover their face, after the taking of plea, the delay tactics begins with frivolous applications either asking to quash the Charges or seeking for bail. The only amazing thing is how Ex governors, Ex senators, Ex ministers and Head of parastatals who despite the notoriety of their involvement in some scandals, they still walk on the street freely and some even partake fully in state matters. Since Obasanjo`s  days in office, some legislators and members of the Federal Executive Council were arraigned on National I D Card scam, education tax fund. The most recent bizarre cases are the Oil Subsidy scandal, Faroukgate and the Pension Fund scam where Mr Abdulrasheed maina seems to have provoked the silence of the NASS who now threaten to bark and bite. Maina is seeking for an order of Court against his arrest.

There’s a general discontent in the nation over the way these cases on corrupt practices are being handled. For instance, Ibori left Nigeria as a free man only to get nabbed in the UK. Odili is enjoying his protection based on an order not to arrest him. Mr. Yusuf of pension scam paid 750 000 and got freed in a controversial ruling delivered by Justice Talba. Even some Bank Chiefs are back in their various homes, while the money deposited poor Nigerians are not being accounted for, we are yet to be told the quantum of Confiscation made from these Bank Chiefs.

Undisputedly, our greatest problem today as a nation is corruption. It is apparent that individuals now build Plazas, Hotels, Estate, Mega Stations, oil depot whereas Government cannot even build a block of toilet. The concept of PPP is being embraced as an avenue to loot public treasury, individuals who have no Financial might approach State Government for PPP arrangement.  At the end, this arrangement becomes an avenue to siphon money in the name of ISPO or Bank Guarantee. Public schools, general Hospital, Government Airlines have been rendered unproductive all in the name of privatization.

Those that looted the treasury become Proprietors of private schools and charge exorbitant school fees. Infact, the easiest way to join the league of millionaires (or billionaires) is to loot the Nation’s treasury. Imagine about 20.6 trillion Naira moved out of Nigeria within a short period? those who were not heard of in the last ten years are now owners of gigantic Companies,a cause for rethink!

Despite these heavy looting of public treasury, it is the fowl thieves. Handset thieves, Pick Pockets that get maximum prison sentence of 2yrs and above. The Treasury looters get off the hook through plea bargain; a concept that has abused through wrong application in Nigeria. The essence of plea bargain is to ease recovery of looted wealth within a short time and speed. That doesn’t stop the accused from serving prison term and confiscation of the loot back to Government treasury.

It is commendable that Bayelsa State Governor signed into law a death sentence for kidnappers, let me quickly add that treasury looters also deserve such punishment because they do more damage than kidnappers. The treasury looters divert money meant for pensioners, money budgeted to buy drugs, books, rehabilitate our Roads, provide potable water, revamp our ailing Industries simply get diverted straight to individual pockets. We may not achieve the mission of 20:2020 if we can`t curb Corruption in Nigeria
I therefore call on the National Assembly to compliment the giant step taken by National Judicial Council by amending our laws to provide for Death Penalty for Treasury looters. The NJC just sacked three High Court Judges; let us have speedy amendment of the Penal code, Criminal code, EFCC Act, ICPC to provide for death penalty so that resources won’t vanish like smoke into thin air. The obsolete Sections in our penal laws should be amended to conform to present trend.

A few years ago, we shouted “Ghana must go”. Alas! Today Ghanaian economy has improved and Nigerians troop to Ghana, Malaysia, Dubai to pursue Academic career I pray we don’t have “Nigerians must leave” from these vibrant economies.
Hmmm, the situation is so bad that corrupt practices has extended to demanding from unemployed youths to pay  up to #300 000 to secure a job. What do you expect from the candidate after joining the Public Service? We cannot divorce these high rates of insecurity from massive unemployment.  So it’s unfair to have Death penalty for Kidnappers alone. The sooner we impose Death Penalty on Treasury Looters, the better for our nation.

‘A word is enough for the wise’

Danlami Alhaji Wushishi is a Minna based legal practitioner. He can be reached through danwushishi@yahoo.com

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