Monday, December 17, 2012

Terrorism: Mixed reactions trail passage of death penalty bill


Mixed reactions on Sunday in Lagos trailed the passage by the National Assembly of the bill prescribing death penalty for acts of terrorism. The National Assembly at its sitting on Thursday approved the death penalty for acts of terrorism following the recommendations of a Conference Committee's report of both houses.

The Committee's report harmonised the different versions of the Amendment Bill passed by both the upper and lower legislative chambers. The Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill, 2012, was passed by the House of Representatives on Oct. 11 and by the Senate on Oct. 17.

The Senate version prescribes life imprisonment for offences under this clause, while the House of Representatives prescribes death penalty. NAN recalls that after deliberations, the House of Representatives version on death penalty was adopted by the Conference Committee.

Speaking to NAN in an interview, Mr Godfrey Lemchi, Lagos State Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, described passage of the bill as ''appropriate''. According to him, terrorism is a grievous crime against humanity. ''It is the worst form of seeking redress by any group; therefore the penalty for such inhuman act both for the financiers and executors is capital punishment," he said.
He said that ''any unpunished terrorism breeds a family of terrorists''.

Bishop Gabriel Omoruyi, the spokesman of Lagos chapter of All Nigeria Peoples Party, also described the passage as ''a step in the right direction''. ''No one has the right to take the life of another illegally. Those who do so should squarely face the law. ''A situation where people enter Churches and Mosques to kill must stop,'' he said. Omoruyi said that if this was done, it would surely bring orderliness back to the society.

Mr Sunny Moniedafe, the former Chairman of the FCT chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, also supported the bill. ''In as much as I want to support the death penalty, I have my reservations and posers for the Senate as to what has led some young Nigerians into terrorism. ''Has the leadership of our dear nation given them enough reasons to deviate from such acts? he queried. Moniedafe, however, urged the Senate to focus on good governance and eradication of injustice.

Mr Unimke Nawa, a former Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, said death penalty would not solve the problem of terrorism in the country. ''Despite the severity of the act of terrorism, the death sentence is not the panacea for abating the crime. ''We have had the death sentence for armed robbery for years without it checking the crime," he said. (NAN)

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