Does death penalty reduce crime rate?
Death penalty is a legal sanction or capital punishment for those found guilty of a wide range or all forms of capital offences such as armed robbery, murder, manslaughter, and now kidnapping in some states.
The essence is to ensure severe punishments for those found guilty of such crimes and to remove them completely from the society, so the law abiding people can enjoy peace and crime free environment, devoid of violence.
That will serve as deterrent for those willing to perpetuate serious crimes in the country, hence the continued retention of this penal and maximum punitive legal sanctions in our laws, especially the provisions of sections 33 and 319 of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.
In a way, there exists a strength in section 33 CFRN, which assuredly states that, ‘no life of a person shall be taken unlawfully, save and except for the execution of a sentence of a court of law that had pronounced death sentence, and actual conviction or in an attempt to prevent a person under arrest from escaping arrest, such can be shot in the leg by security personnel.’
But you now have endless, extra judicial killings (see the new Police Reform Act for adequate safeguards).
However, there was the general and specific provisions under section 319 CFRN 1999, and now sections 201,203,204 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the various states that had domesticated the Act into their various domestic laws such as the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Ondo State,2016 and that of Oyo, Ogun, Lagos , Edo, Delta etc.
The penal code, the Criminal Procedure Code Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, sections 318 and 319 do not allow bail to be granted the offenders of armed robbery, murder, manslaughter, and kidnapping.
It is expedient to note that the essential provision of section 204 of the ACJA 2015, says, ‘upon conviction and sentence, a person found guilty of such crimes of armed robbery, murder, kidnapping, treasonable felony, arson including bringing up frivolous petitions against another person leading to his death is equal to sentence to death by hanging on the neck, until life ebbs out of him or death by firing squad, or by lethal injection.
The continued retention of this penal and maximum punitive legal sanctions in our laws, especially the 1999 constitution is now subject to convoluted controversy, as most countries in the world, such as the US, UK, France, Russia, Holland, Japan, Belgium, and others had abolished death penalty to maximize life imprisonment.
The question now is that, has death penalty achieved the desired result of reduction in crime? No. We have a new crime rate carrying death penalty in drug related narcotics offences for carriers of banned substances, like cocaine, marijuana etc attracts death sentence in our laws and in most countries now executing Nigerians.
600 Nigerians are awaiting drugs related offences execution in Saudi Arabia and many in Indonesia, lraq, Venezuela and Asia countries.
We plead, we ask for removal of death sentence in our laws, so as to secure our nationals awaiting the hangman’s noose in other countries, or they be extradited in exchange for trial in Nigeria under the municipal laws of each country.
Where the offences are committed or the laws of their respective countries under bilateral cooperation, as some are innocently convicted, like Kudirat Adesola, and Zainab Aliyu, a Nigerian student in Saudi, that was recently freed on the intervention of the Federal Government, and one another, the case of Rabi lsmail, recently sentenced to death and another, by the Supreme Court for alleged murder of her boyfriend, is an issue.
The cases of Gabriel vs the state at the Akure High Court, on appeal to the Court of Appeal for Committal of the death sentence to 10 years imprisonment as the Supreme Court in Kalu V the State judgment states that “death sentence cannot be varied as an imposed duty by law, except at the discretion of the court which is often reluctant in exercising same.”
Cases as Adio vs the Governor of Oyo State, who was executed pending appeal; Adeomi vs the state; Njoku vs the State; Kalu vs the state; Fawehinmi vs the State etc suffices (are relevant).
On the essence, of over 2, 065, convictions in Nigeria, so far, about 65-75 convictions since 1999 over 800 awaiting executions, 47 % pending appeals, which often takes longer time and chances of upturned judgments narrowerven for innocent offenders, our laws need to be reformed, as deterrence for those offences committed to life imprisonments or varying years of sentence, depending on the level of offences.
Disclosures can save some offenders, or no case submission, or plea of mitigation of sentence upon plea of guilty, or as a first time offender. There’s also need for decongestion of prisons and prison reforms are imperative.
Cases of the convicted murderer of the daughter of the former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Alh. Oluboyo, that of arson involving Deji Adenuga, who murdered the family of 8 in Okitipupa Local Government of Ondo State, including kidnapping cases such as that of Evans, Rev. King of Oyingbo, are flash points.
We look at the need for continued life imprisonment for those below 18 years as enshrined in the UN Charter of 1948 and African on People’s Rights Ratification, and the 1999 CFRN, while the continued retention of Death penalty in our laws be a two way pronged now.
The essence of death penalty is to serve as maximum sanctions and deterrence to commission of capital offences and crimes. But have we achieved the expected reduction in capital crimes offences in the land which is on the increase? If the likes of Aninis had been executed in the past for armed robbery; Ken Saro Wiwa executed on treason, Bartholomew Owoh, Bernard Ogedengbe, Edward Ojulope and others were executed on drug narcotics related offences in Nigeria under our penal laws, it is not yet Uhuru, while the outside Western world especially had abolished death penalty.
It is not yet Uhuru since most countries of the Western world had abolished death penalty in their respective domestic laws.
In Nigeria, it is in our penal laws that if any person under 18 years old is found guilty of a capital offence upon conviction for death penalty, he or she shall not be made to serve a death sentence, but shall be committed to a life imprisonment sentence in line with the UN Human Rights Charter, which is in line with other countries jurisdictions CTN.
Now, the other angle comes, which is the issue of arguments by legal Scholars and jurists, and which l equally shared that if countries like Nigeria did not retain or impose death penalties in its domestic laws and the constitution, or to have abolished same especially on drug related offences, Nigeria would have been a den and headquarters of drug barons and narcotics addicts.
Given our domestic experience in cocaine pushers, planters and growers of banned substances, also our being able to secure bilateral agreements and bilateral relationship and agreements with advanced countries in the world on innatio Laws.
As it stands now on narcotics addicts, such as the USA, Saudi Arabia, UK, Indonesia and countries of South America, North and South East, Asia and Latin Americas, it is also imperative that if we don’t retain death penalty in our penal system and the constitution, we would not have been able to secure bilateral agreement with Saud Arabia’s authorities for the release of citizens Zainab Aliyu and lbrahim Abubakar, wrongly accused of narcotics, while the cases of armed robbery, murder, kidnapping etc would have been unprecedented in Nigeria given the notorious nature of our societies.
If there is no law or death penalty sanctions for armed robbery, people would have been robbed or slaughtered on our roads across the country on daily basis. If we retain only life imprisonment in our penal laws, while most Southern states, starting with Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Rivers, Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra etc and now Katsina, state in the North have signed into law, death penalty for kidnapping, even cattle rustlers and even continued killings by Fulani herdsmen, likewise Book Haram kingpins. If there is no death penalties in our penal laws, what would have been the case now?
We would have been roundly more lawless of a country Nigeria, that even with the activities of NDLEA, NAFDAC, DSS and other intelligence agencies like the Military and Para Military as well the effectiveness of the Judiciary in crime adjudication and the justice delivery system.
We could have in our system, open sale of cocaine, cannabis Sativa, Indian Hemp, and other banned substances and hard drugs, such as Trammadol has entered our drug related offences lexicon now as a crime addict, while the safety and influence of the criminals and their products would have consumed all of us, as any clamour by anybody on licence for growth of cannabis cultivation at this stage of our endangered national life is not only misplaced but inappropriate, as we are not advanced as Canada, remember the notorious case of Gloria Okon in our national drug calendar, the case and endless sufferings of Ayo Omidina, a.k.a Babasuwe, our lady actresses that lost their lives to drug peddling, recently Kudirat Afolabi in Saudi, with about 10 Nigerians executed in Indonesia, mostly of lgbo tribe about, while about 800 are awaiting death by the hangs men in Saudi Arabia.lran, lraq, Brazil, the Carribean, Trinidad and Tobago etc.
If there is no death penalty, the killer boy friend of the slain daughter of former Ondo State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Oluboyo. Also, the recently rearrested Deji Adenuga, who ripped open the intestine of his girl friend and later set ablaze a house in which seven members of the lady’s family died in the riverine area of Ondo state for no reason. The man is now on a charge of arson.
Even the case of kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme a.k.a Evans now stalled, as a link to the nefarious acts of kidnappings in the country. Even wanton killings across the land, such as police and military extra judicial killings, murder, manslaughter, would have been uncheckmated and alarming.
Apart from the implementation of the Sharia penal codes in most states of Northern Nigeria, given the astronomical rise in capital offences, like drug related narcotics addictions in banned substances offences, high treason, killings, kidnappings, armed banditry, and high wave crime rate in the land, continued retention of death penalty in the country’s penal laws as maximum punitive sanctions or punishments for notorious offenders is a sine -qua-non, at this stage of our national legal development.
Mr Yemi Aladetoyinbo, an Akure based legal practitioner sent in the piece
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