Kidnappers in Nigeria: Death Sentence for Treasury Looters?

Senate of Nigeria
Senate of Nigeria

The Nigerian senate on the 28th of September, 2017 passed a bill into law promulgating death sentence for kidnappers in Nigeria.

If these are normal times, and if Nigeria is a normal country, I wouldn’t have a problem with that law.

This news, carried by the online edition of the Premiumtimes Nigeria on 29 September, 2017 would actually infuriate anyone who has any knowledge of how Nigeria functions.

The passage of that law is, ironically, a death sentence on the Nigerian State. The Nigerian state happens to be the greatest kidnapper for ransom in Nigeria at the moment.

What do you call the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians virtually kidnapped by the Police and placed in prison custody as ATM, without ever seeing a judge; based on allegations over crimes which if they were convicted statutorily carry lesser sentences than many of them have spent in prison?

What do you call the routine act of the Nigerian police arresting innocent citizens under false pretenses and asking their relatives to pay money for their “bail” even when our Statutes say that bail is free?

This is on the irony side of the ledger.

My problem with that law stems from two standpoints; one philosophical, the other practical, and tied to my moral revulsion at the shenanigans of this aristocracy of corruption which has hijacked governance in Nigeria.

First, I am an arch and unrepentant opponent of capital punishment. I have not seen a logically sound and philosophical valid basis for capital punishment. There is no basis for the State to execute someone, even for murder. It is not punishment. It is not justice. It is vendetta. And if my legal and philosophical training have been right, the law should never serve as an instrument of vendetta.

Germany and most countries in Europe that have abolished capital punishment have shown that with the right laws, and with the right welfare programs and access to justice and equity for all that the society could enjoy a felicity and low crime rate that is sustainable.

But all this is meat for another meal. I have to state it in the spirit of full disclosure.

The second and most important reason why I am against that law is the uproarious hypocrisy that suffuses its central metaphysic, its conception and passage into law. The passage of this law lends credence to the spirit informing a sticker I saw on a truck on the freeway driving from Dallas Fort Worth to Oklahoma. The sticker read:

“Don’t steal. The government hates competition“

Granted that kidnapping is a serious crime and has in recent times become a canker that has paralyzed socioeconomic life in many Nigerian cities with fear, I abhor and totally condemn the audacious impunity of these heartless kidnappers who have traumatized many families and plunged many others into mourning. Kidnapping must be fought with all the instruments of our laws; and fought to a standstill. The kidnappers are growing more audacious by the day, to the extent that Nigerians are no longer safe even in the barricaded confines of their homes.

Having said that; the Senate’s action is a tongue-in-cheek reaction that many African responses to social problems are characterized by. We are so very good in tackling symptoms instead of dealing with the pathology itself.

The indices lend strong support that kidnapping is a symptom of a dysfunctional State. Kidnapping and other crimes have arisen and persisted in Nigeria; not because of the lack of the relevant laws, but by a range of factors, from;

1. Bad governance, which has corrupted every facet of law enforcement and criminal justice system in Nigeria.

2. massive poverty enslaving over 70% of the Nigerian population who are forced to subsist on less than 1$ per day in the face of the obscene display of ill gotten wealth by the political and elitist class;

3. the inability of the government to fund, equip, and decentralize that huge bureaucracy of corruption which the Nigerian Police Force has become;

4. Lack of prospects for jobs and self actualization for over 70% of the Nigerian population that are young people below the age of 35.

5. The massive corruption bedevilling the society which forecloses every access to justice for the poor and shuts off every avenue for remedy and redress of injustice.

Social action to retire the massive deprivation of possibilities which the indignity and hopelessness of poverty imposes on the average Nigerian youth, would make kidnapping and crime an unattractive option.

This is for starters.

We have laws against kidnapping in Nigeria. The Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria provides a ten year jail term for kidnapping.

Is that not enough? A person jailed for ten years has actually wasted his life. Why kill him? If ten years imprisonment is not enough to dissuade someone from that crime, is it not imperative that we look at the factors that compel him to risk that crime?

The factors making crime so attractive in Nigeria must actually be sociological. This is where I need the expertise of my brother and the illustrious African Sociologist of Nigerian origin, Prof. Tade Aina.

I am miffed by this law. I am beyond outrage.

Nigeria unsubscribed herself from the march of civilization by still allowing capital punishment in her Statutes. The British, whose legal system we downloaded almost principle for principle, have erased this obnoxious practice from their laws since 1965. Yet Nigeria subsists in that legal anachronism till the thresholds of modernity.

I suspect that the members of the senate went for self preservation in passing that law. They did not want to commit a class suicide. They want to protect their class of elitist gangsters from the buccaneering wrath of the dispossessed and angry Nigeria youth whom the marauding and kleptocratic orgies of the political and elitist class devastated his future, leaving him no option other than the life of crime if he is to survive.

It is a law hatched by an aristocracy of political gangsters to shut out the competition. Remember that the Nigerian senate is being presided over by an accused bank robber.

These thieves are quick to pass a law targeting the crimes of those at the lower rung of the society. But their own crimes are never even mentioned.

They passed that law fully in the know that they are targets of kidnapping due to the amount of loot they have cornered for themselves.

No self respecting kidnapper would kidnap a beggar. He does not have the kind of loot to defray the costs of a ransom. They go for those who take home over 29million a month, while 70% of Nigerians are living below the poverty line.

That law is an an act of self preservation by this thieving Aristocracy.

This why they would never pass a law recommending the death penalty for the political class who together have stolen over 300 billion Dollars since Oil was discovered in Nigeria. These guys were the ones who embezzled the posterity of these young Nigerians who are forced to turn to such dastard vocations as kidnapping to finance their existence. These are the guys that deserve the death penalty. Not the victims of their devastation.

I hope someone will introduce a bill seeking the death penalty for treasury looters.

Written by
Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh
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