Editor’s note: There have been mixed reactions over the recent arrest of a notorious kidnap kingpin Chukwudiememe Onwuamadike, alias Evans by the Lagos police command and the signing of anti-kidnapping bill into law by the Lagos state governor Akinwunmi Ambode. While many people suggested that the government should start implementing the law with Evans’ case, other opined that death sentence would never reduce crimes in the country.
In an article sent to NAIJ.com, a Lagos-based journalist, Muhammed Subair explains while the government at all levels should look beyond death penalty as a deterrent for criminal activities in Nigeria.
Obviously, penalties for various crimes vary as it is determined by the intensity of the offence committed. While some offences go with mild punishments, others entail a long term confinement and or death sentencing.
However, crimes that attract death penalty include but not limited to murder, armed robbery, assassination and most recently kidnapping and hostage taking.
But, as there is an upsurge in the rate of kidnapping and armed robbery cases in the country, the effectiveness of capital punishment as deterrent and as a tool of the government that kills for the safety of the society is in doubt especially with the outcry against death sanction by Amnesty International (AI) and other international bodies.
According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on crime rate in the country, Lagos state and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja recorded a total of 58,566 crime cases in 2016.
The NBS findings further revealed that the FCT recorded 13,181 crime cases while Lagos state with the highest rate of crime recorded 45,385 crime cases
In 2016, during my visit to the Nigeria prison facility in Ibara, Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria, for the graduation ceremony held for some inmates by an international nongovernmental organisation, I had the privilege to interface with inmates that were on death row.
Apart from the fact that the expedition was an eye opener to the rot in prisons in Nigeria, it was also a revealing experience in that it exposed the neglect and abandonment of countless number of inmates that have been condemned to death but are adding to the already overcrowded prison and also overburdening government finances.
From the above perspective, the question remains, what is the justification for capital punishment when inmates that are on death row are mounded up and endlessly await execution while state governors (with the exclusion of former Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole who signed the criminal act in 2013) who are to approve of the execution are nonchalant about this daunting responsibility.
Perhaps, the conscience of these governors pierce with guilt of being responsible through their actions or inactions for the societal rot and degradation that criminalised these set of people hence their refusal to sign the death sentence papers.
Let me bring back to memory the celebrated case of Rev. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo also known as Rev. King who under the guise of preaching the gospel turned himself into an object of worship and dehumanised some members of his congregation and was later convicted for murder.
It is worthy of mention that Rev. King, the General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging in 2007 for the murder of Ann Uzoh, a member of his church in January 2007.
But ten years down the line, Rev. King is still in the dark as to what would become of him either to be let loose or to be hanged.
Within the period under review, countless number of murder, ritual and religious killings, kidnapping, assassination and other capital offences have been committed around the country which further buttress the point that death sanction does not deter an individual who might be considering social crime as an option.
Recently, Lagos residents reeled in jubilation for the success recorded by the gallant members of the Lagos command of the Nigeria Police for the arrest of notorious billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudiememe Onwuamadike, alias Evans.
But the truth is, there is more to the arrest of Evans than being elated. Although, the feat is worth celebrating but another thing our police ought to be worried about is the sophistication and technical knowhow Evans brought into the trade of kidnapping which further established the fact that a lot still needs to be done by the government in the area of crime busting in the country.
However, it is instructive to state that rather than the government both state and federal let loose the hangman’s rope, an appraisal of the causes of social crimes is inevitable in order to stem the fast growing inhuman acts.
These causes I identified as corruption, bad leadership, unemployment, poverty, poor parental upbringing and the failure of the government to provide social security and opportunities for the teeming youth population in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the first widely celebrated case of kidnap which was reported in 1999 in the Niger Delta was as a result of the dilapidation and decay in the region which led to the abduction of three oil workers, an Australian, An American and a Nigerian at the Shell Oil facility to demand for resource control and other basic needs of life.
Subsequent to this, kidnapping spread like wild fire from the Niger Delta to South-west and South-south regions of the country and still lives with us.
But a way out of this social crime quagmire is not far-fetched. It is for the government to look beyond death sentence for capital crimes and concentrate on rehabilitating offenders and intensify efforts at creating employment for the youth as it is said that an idle hand is the devil instrument.
Also, our political leaders should also shun corruption and misappropriation of public funds and invest in human capital development of the youth who constitute active population. By implication, once the youth are gainfully engaged, crime will be less attractive to them.
Broken home, poor parental upbringing and poverty have also been adduced as being the reason many youth adopt crime as an alternative to quick wealth because the home has failed in inculcating in them the necessary dos and don’ts of life.
The home has a vital role to play in moulding the character of the child and that is why it is advisable for the parents to spend quality time with their children as it will afford them the opportunity to know the kind of friends they keep and how they spend their free hours in order for them not to be menace to society.
NAIJ.com had previously reported that Evans insisted that he was fair to all his victims despite the public perception of him.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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Watch this NAIJ.com TV Video of the house of the Billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudubem Onwuamadike popularly knows as Evans after he was recently nabbed by men of the Nigeria Police Force: