Lawyers divided over death penalty for kidnappers


A couple of days back, the Senate approved death sentence for kidnappers and this has been generating heated reactions by Nigerians, home and abroad. Some have argued in support of capital punishment, while some are still of the opinion that life imprisonment would be much more appropriate as a deterrent to those that may still want to venture into the condemnable and heinous crime.

The legal practitioners ENCOMIUM Weekly sought their views also held divergent views on it.



John Itodo


‘I am not in support of death penalty for kidnappers’ – JOHN  ITODO

Kidnapping, no doubt, is a very awful offence. It’s barbaric and inhumane. Forcefully seizing and detaining someone against his/her wish in return for a ransom is evil. Notwithstanding this, however, I am against death penalty for any offence primarily because I am of the opinion that punishment should be reformative, and where a kidnapper is apprehended, he should not be killed but kept in a reformative custody at the pleasure of a governor or the president.

“A lot of countries have abolished death penalty and they seem to have overcome most of the crimes we struggle with here. These countries, without death penalty, are safer, humane and more civil compared with ours that has all the so-called capital punishments.

“This supports the argument that the deterrent benefit usually canvassed in favour of capital punishment is of little or no deterrent benefit in the psyche of a kidnapper and the society. So, what should we do? Should we let these barbaric people roam our street as free men? Of course, the answer is a direct hail no! Get them, but with the mindset of reforming them rather than killing them. After all, a man that’s dead is dead, and he knows or feels not the punishment you think you have inflicted on him. The innocent victim may be glad that ‘justice’ had been meted out to his abductors but in truth, the larger society has benefited nothing from the death of the kidnapper.

“A lot of young men and women have been killed by firing squad for armed robbery and murder, but in all fairness, has that reduced the number of violent crimes we have around? No, rather it’s even on the increase.

“I think the government should also try and create an environment that will meaningfully engage the youth and discourage unemployment and underemployment. A lot of young men and women have a lot of time idling in their hands and as you know, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Also, there should be a system that can make for immediate pursuit and rescue mission. The reason people are compliant in western world is not because they have more scruples than us in Nigeria, but they are aware there is no hiding place for them.

“So, I would suggest that rather than wait for people to kidnap and then come after them with death penalty, let’s discourage kidnapping, fix the street lights, CCTV cameras, constantly clear hideouts, bushes and bush paths, equip the police to be prepared for this task, have choppers combing regions for suspicious movement and more. If people kidnap and they know that police will find them in a matter of hours, believe me, we won’t need a death penalty for kidnapping.

“I also want to appeal to religious organizations to please, preach dignity in labour. All the ‘I will work like an ant and eat like an elephant’ is bad. Teach people to work and be diligent. Teach morals. Let’s forget about the number of worshippers you have in your church or mosque, let’s teach the real Word, Biblical and Quranic values are the way to go”.

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Capital punishment should be maintained for now’ – CLEMENT ONWUENWUNOR

The 1999 Constitution as amended guarantees right to life to every one save for the execution of an order of court where any person is convicted of a capital offence. Although, I am not an advocate of capital punishment, the dangerous and pervasive trends kidnapping have assumed in Nigeria also demand pervasive and stringent punishment as death penalty.

Let capital punishment for kidnapping be maintained until we outgrow our crude animalistic tendencies before that law is amended to life sentence.


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‘Life imprisonment would be appropriate, not capital punishment’ – TOYIN  BANGBOSE-FALEYE

Kidnappers have wreaked havoc in our society. They have caused pain and agony in many homes. In some cases, after successfully collecting the ransom, they will still end up killing the victim. This menacing offence deserves capital punishment.

However, I beg to differ on the death penalty as punishment. Life imprisonment sentence would be appropriate as the deserved punishment for convicts. Kidnapping gradually gained grounds as a means of making fast cash and when society gets better, I believe it would fizzle out.

The lawmakers should always put into consideration that interpretation and the ease of implementation of laws made is an issue that needs attention.



’Death penalty is good for kidnappers’ – FRED  AGBAJE

If you’re bold enough to be kidnapping, you should also be bold enough to face the consequences of your action. Despite being an apostle of human rights, I still support death penalty for kidnappers. Anybody that opposes death penalty for kidnappers should pray he or she falls victim. If the person is likely to come back safely, may be that will change his or her thought. So, I support death penalty as punishment for kidnapping because of the gravity of the offence.

But on the other side, government must create jobs for the people because an idle hand is devil’s workshop.

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‘I am opposed to capital punishment for kidnappers’ – CHRIS NWAOKOBIA

Why capital punishment for kidnapping now? That means those who want death penalty as punishment for kidnappers have sown wild bean and are scared of itchy rash. Corruption, yet shamelessly those who condone corruption want the death penalty for the collateral damage there to.

Corruption destroys the moral fabric of the nation. It leaves our infrastructure comatose. Corruption deepens unemployment, leaves our health sector in shambles. It’s deadlier than kidnapping.

Corruption nurtures abrasive criminally. It fuels anger and ruptures social harmony. Where public office holders live in opulence and the average worker is owed his/her monthly emolument.

Left to me, I am opposed to death penalty for any crime. Criminologists have proven that life imprisonment deters the villain more than the death penalty. I am aware that the death penalty for armed robbery is yet to reduce the menace. Knowing that if you’re caught, you will spend the rest of your life in jail. Shame is greater deterrence, wonder why nations with the life imprisonment are safer than climes where death penalty is yet in practice.

So, I implore Nigerians to say yes to life imprisonment for corruption and kidnapping and not capital punishment.


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