The House of Assembly of Nigeria’s southern state of Delta, once notorious for being the axis of kidnappers, on Wednesday in Asaba passed into law, the Anti-kidnapping Bill 2013, imposing a death sentence on any person convicted of kidnapping in the state.
Cultists and terrorists will also earn a death penalty, while the property of the kidnappers will be confiscated. The law was passed without Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s assent. Uduaghan withheld assent because he wanted the sanction to be life imprisonment. Ignoring their governor’s objection, the assembly mustered two-thirds of the members to support the passage of the law.
The lawmakers had earlier passed the bill on 18 December 2012 and sent it to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for his assent. In the letter to the members of the house read by the Speaker, Mr Victor Ochei, on Wednesday, Gov.Emmanuel Uduaghan said: “After full consideration to the Bill as passed by the house and presented to me for assent, no doubt, there are fundamental and compelling issues, some of which are constitutional”.
“This has made it necessary for me to withhold my assent on the bill. It is my view that death sentence punishment is not likely to serve as a deterrent or antidote for crime of kidnapping. “It is suggested that the sentence should be imprisonment for a longer term, that is life imprisonment.
“My reasons for suggesting long term of imprisonment are, it is a well known fact that death sentence is the penalty for the offences of armed robbery and murder. “Notwithstanding death sentence imposed for those offences, they are still being committed on a daily basis in this country. “As at today, there are more armed robbery cases pending compared to kidnapping cases in the various judicial divisions of high court. “The second reason why I withhold my assent to the bill is that there is currently world-wide campaign calling for the abolition of death sentence from the law books.
“This campaign has been taken up by the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies among several agencies.’’ In a reaction, the lawmakers overruled the governor’s position and went through the legislative process to bring the bill into law with effect from April 17, 2013. The speaker said that section 100 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulated that a two-third of the house was required to veto the governor on any bill.
According to Ochei, out of the 29 members of the house, 26 signed the passage of the bill into law on Wednesday. The speaker directed the Clerk of the house, Mr Lyna Ocholor, to enroll the law in the High Court of Delta.