Going down memory lane, from the days of Honourable Salisu Buhari, Speaker of
the fifth House of Representatives, to the days of Honourable Patricia Olubunmi
Etteh, and to the immediate past Speaker, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, one thing
that has been phenomenal is its noisy and boisterous way of conducting plenary.
However, remarkable and progressive bills have suffered violent rejection on
the floor of the House in a manner reminiscent of children playing in a typical
village moonlight setting.
In the history of Nigeria, however, the July 10, 2008 sitting was not an
exception, as members unanimously rejected a bill at its second stage, brought
before the floor of the House by one of their own, the former speaker of Edo
state House of Assembly, Honourable Friday Itulah, seeking to establish capital
punishment for armed robbers.
Despite this, Honourable Itulah had sought, in the bill to amend the Robbery
and Firearms (special provision) cap, R 11, law of Nigeria, 2004, by replacing
it with life imprisonment.
His argument was that execution by hanging was obnoxious in a democracy, which
he said was a product of the military Decree No 5 of 1984, by General Buhari
and Idiagbon’s regime and has failed in its intended usefulness.
While supporting his argument, Itulah said that job opportunities should rather
be the alternative for youths and the provision of a virile atmosphere for
private sector to thrive. He cited Ghana as an example of countries where the
death penalty has already been abolished.
Meanwhile, the cacophony of noise that greeted Itulah’s submission was typical
of these lawmakers. Some members who thought they were doing this country a
service, argued that it was unfair to leave somebody who kills innocent people
unkilled. Therefore, they went further to urge Nigerians to reject the bill in
In this country, when a man steals a fowl, like a popular musician said, he is
made to die by hanging or firing squad. But when a politician kills, maims, and
enriches himself illegitimately, he is given chieftaincy titles.
However, since the lawmakers are asking Nigerians to reject a bill that says no
to capital punishment to armed robbers, Nigerians are hereby saying that
capital punishment should be extended to election riggers, political thugs,
political assassins and their sponsors.
It should also not leave out politicians, who impoverish the people, nor should
it exonerate those who fail to deliver democratic dividends to their people in
Afolabi Oluseyi Israel,
Department of Mass Communication,
University of Maiduguri,
(source: Nigerian Tribune)