Elder statesmen and lawyers comment on whether or not treasury looters should get capital punishment

Yes, capital punishment is necessary. But that should depend on the level and degree of the offence. Some categories of corruption should carry the death sentence, if that is the only thing that can serve as deterrence. This is because selfishness has become extremely high. The level of selfishness is so high that if we do not take a desperate measure, the country will not move anywhere.

The punitive measures in our existing laws are not sufficient deterrence. So, capital punishment should be seriously considered and debated. It should be widely debated.

High-degree corrupt practices should attract capital punishment. For instance, somebody who steals a billion naira has done sufficient damage to Nigeria to warrant capital punishment. The stolen money could have been used to build hospitals, construct roads and purchase security equipment. Meanwhile, the absence of these facilities might have caused the death of many people.

People die on bad roads across the country daily because money budgeted for rehabilitation has been misappropriated. Such a misappropriation has a direct impact on the lives of the people. The impact of corruption should determine whether an individual found guilty should get the death penalty or not. –• • Baralabe Musa (A former Governor of old Kaduna State)

I would not want to comment on whether corruption should attract the death penalty because our problems are not the lack of laws in this country. One or two sentences cannot explain how deep we are in this problem (of corruption). It is a pity, but we pray. And we have to pray hard. I am involved in some organisations that are working at seeing how we can begin a change in the attitude of the people. We need to be more positive in nation-building.

What we are suffering is not as a result of lack of laws. We are suffering from a situation where people know what is right but look the other way when they are transgressing. My concern is how to get everybody to be committed to attitudinal change. People should not be only concerned about their selfish interests.

Nobody under 50 has met this country in good order. Those who were born after 1966 have heard nothing edifying about this country. All the things they have heard have been terrible. We need to get a critical mass to begin to key into the efforts to change the attitude of the people.- • Philip Asiodu (An ex-Minister of Petroleum and Economic Adviser to the Federal Government)

Personally, I am not in support of the death penalty. But I am in support of very stringent sentences. The fact is that we have not even convicted anybody, not to talk of considering the death penalty. Who are the people that have been convicted already? People are being prosecuted and it could go on for years.

What I think is important is to set a limit within which people who are accused must get judgment. The appropriate punishment should be given to those found guilty. It could be very disheartening when cases continue for several months or years. Yet, another person steals a goat and gets a sentence in six months.

It is clear that justice is not the same for everybody, and this is not acceptable. There must be a time limit within which pending cases must be treated. The same practice in election cases should apply to the prosecution of those accused of corruption. Such people should be convicted quietly and given the appropriate punishment. They could get 21 years in jail without an option of fine. Then, the money they stole must be recovered. There should not be an option of a fine because some of them might have killed other people. The money they stole might have led to the death of many people. That is why they deserve to be jailed without an option of a fine. I support stringent punishment, but not the death penalty.- • Prof. Remi Sonaiya (Ex-presidential candidate, KOWA Party)    

I am probably the first notable individual in Nigeria that made the call. Making corruption a capital punishment has always been my position. So, I don’t see it as a new advocacy. But if we are to do that, we must ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice. It is better for nine guilty individuals to go free than to convict one person wrongly. This means we must revamp the criminal justice administration.- • Yusuf Ali (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)

I do not subscribe to it. Capital punishment has not deterred robbers and kidnappers from committing heinous crimes. The emphasis should be on the recovery of stolen assets arising from corruption, restitution and getting the support of the international community to bar culprits and their family members from entering foreign countries. – • Emeka Ngige (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)

Well, I don’t know how effective capital punishment would be. I think it is more a matter of better education than using all kinds of punishments. If we can get our people to understand what corruption actually does to them, there could be a difference. That is where we should be concentrating our energies on.

I would advocate that everybody who is arrested for corruption should be named and made to suffer. There are certain things that existing laws expect us to do to people who are corrupt. If we do them conscientiously, we do not have to look for capital punishment. At the moment, there is too much impunity because people think that they can get away with anything. – • Dr. Christopher Kolade (A former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom)

I don’t think that corruption should attract the death penalty. I am one of the advocates of the abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria. I have argued against it on several occasions. So, it would not be appropriate for me to support the idea of the death penalty as a tool for fighting against corruption in the country.

Also, if you make it a capital offence, what happens when somebody adjudged to be guilty is later discovered to be innocent? Then, the person would have been killed. How would the individual’s life be restored? There was a particular case where a man was executed only to be later discovered that he was innocent. If we are in that kind of situation, what would we do?

I do not subscribe to that. I think we have enough laws that we can use to address the issue instead of making corruption attract the death penalty. – • Norrison Quakers (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)