17 June 2017

Nigeria: What Should Be Appropriate Punishment for Kidnappers?

Photo: This Day

Many kidnap incidences have been reported in various parts of the country and just last week, the abduction of 20 people on the Abuja-Kaduna road. Daily Trust spoke to some legal practitioners what they think should be appropriate punishment.

Hamid Ajibola Jimoh, Legal practitioner

Kidnapping is the crime of seizing and taking away a person by force or fraud. In the case of the suspected billionaire kidnapper, the offence relating to the word 'kidnapping', if it is to be tried in Lagos or any part of the country where he has committed the offence, can only be charged under the offence of that state.

Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN

We should follow the cue of Anambra State where they demolish all the properties of the kidnappers to serve as a deterrent. If the victim does not die, the government can destroy the property. It has worked in Anambra State and that was why Evans ran away to Edo State before running to Lagos. However, the property should not be demolished without a court order authorizing demolition after the accused person has been found guilty. this is where I disagree with the practice where they destroy property without court order or where the accused person has not been found guilty, which is like self-help.

Kingdom Okere, Legal Practitioner

It is a crime against humanity, so the punishment should be death. How dare a human being kidnap another, keep him in the bush for days and with all the risks, such as snakes? There is nothing on ground to prove that they have an anti-snake bite drug in the bush. Then they collect ransom ranging millions, depending on the person's financial capacity. Some people go as far as selling all they have to come out. And the worst form of it is that some people would end up paying the money and yet take delivery of a dead body. Culprits should face the full wrath of the law, which should be the death sentence. If not for legal minds, and the jurisprudential thought about jungle justice, I would prefer jungle justice. It is a crime against humanity.

Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN

Kidnapping is a national malaise that has assumed frightening proportions, especially in the last two years of the APC government. I was kidnapped on August 22 2013 and released on September 12 2013. But due to hunger, despondency and abject poverty in the last two years, kidnap has assumed frightening proportions. When it results to murder it is robbery with murder. Without resulting in murder, it is armed robbery because a person is kept incommunicado and away from his family, so as to get ransom.

As a Christian and human rights activist, I do not think that death penalty would solve the problem. The root cause of kidnapping is poverty. Biblical injunction says, "Thou shall not Kill". Killing or execution as a punishment for murder or kidnapping has never been shown to be a deterrent. Punishment does not solve problems, because it does not give the criminal a chance to retrace his steps.

However, life imprisonment would be better than the death penalty. There must be economic empowerment of the youth by the government and provision of various infrastructures. There must be employment for youth because most crimes are carried out by them. Most kidnappers are found to be Fulani herdsmen so the government should address the issue of the herdsmen.

Anthony Oguajamma, Legal Practitioner

In many units of the federation, you already have penal legislation on kidnapping. In some of these states, the punishment is death, in some other states, it is life imprisonment. I am one of those that believe that death sentence should not even be in our penal code. As somebody whose activities are channelled towards curtailing the liberties of another person, I think the punishment should be also limiting the person's liberty by a life sentence.

Richard Ali, Legal Practitioner

Kidnapping is not a capital offense. But then, I think there should be a long prison term as well as confiscation of assets. I think the long prison term currently exists, about fifteen or twenty years, I am not sure. There should also be confiscation of assets, which are proceeds of crime. However, my interest is not just in kidnapping, because it is not the issue but a by-product, which is weak intelligence gathering by the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies. Where there is break down of law and order, such criminal behaviour proliferates. Kidnapping itself is not particularly important, no matter how we feel about the victims. It is a symptom of a systemic issue that we should deal with, if not, we should not be surprised by the rate of kidnappings and highway robbery. Intelligence gathering and sharing among our security agencies need to be improved.

Max Ogar, Legal Practitioner

They should be punished with death even though the international community is now clamouring against death sentence. Whether that will be commuted to life sentence is different but let it be there in our laws.

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