Ahead of Thursday’s zonal constitutional conferences, foremost northern political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, has recommended capital punishment for corruption. At present, China is the only notable country where corruption attracts capital punishment.In its proposal submitted to the National Assembly, a copy of which was obtained by one our correspondents in Kaduna on Tuesday, the ACF rued the destructive impact of corruption on the country and said that anybody found guilty of corruption should be killed.
The forum said, “The law classifies crimes according to the severity of their consequences both on the individual victim, the community or the country. If crime holds a high potential to gravely harm or kill its victim, the more severe the punishment, which was designed to punish and deter offenders.
“This is to say that punishment must always fit offences. One crime that has proved capable of gravely harming or killing its victim, Nigeria, is corruption.
“Sadly, our laws have not recognised corruption for what it is. ACF recommends that corruption be recognised as a capital offence and made to carry capital punishment.” Corruption is regarded as common-place among the country’s political class and men of power and efforts to stem it have been handled with kid gloves notwithstanding the establishment of anti-corruption agencies.
Only few notable Nigerians have been tried and sentenced for corruption.
Former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, is currently serving jail term in London for economic crimes.
Ex-governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbnedion, was similarly tried, convicted and fined N3.5m by an Enugu High court in December 2008. The judgment which enraged the public as a slap-on-the-wrist followed a plea-bargain deal between the former governor and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which saw 191 charges preferred against Igbinedion reduced to just one. Jonathan’s predecessor in Bayelsa State, ex-governor Diepreye Alamieseigha, was tried and sentenced to two years imprisonment in 2007 by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
A chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George, also completed a jail term last year for corruption while serving as the Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
The ACF also said that it favoured the creation of more local governments instead of states and that it was opposed to rotational presidency and constitutional roles for traditional rulers. “It is the view of the ACF that the status quo be maintained provided that traditional rulers are insulated from political influences and the security of their tenure is guaranteed,” the Forum stated.
Explaining its position on state creation, the ACF said, “It seems the nation has reached a level where the exercise (state creation) should stop or else the states shall become mere efforts or cost centres which consume the needed resources for other important aspect of the nation’s socio-economic and political development.”
The forum added that there was no need to recognise six geo-political zones, saying that all that was needed was for the federating units to be made more economically viable. The ACF urged the National Assembly to ensure that the unity of the country was not compromised. According to the group, special attention should be given to address issues of governance to curb practices that suggest that other parts of Nigeria do not fully belong to the whole. Consequently, the ACF recommended scrapping of the Joint Account and State Electoral Commissions in the 1999 Constitution.
The group said that the practice of appointing un-elected caretaker committees for Local Government Areas be abolished, adding that constitutional provisions for checks and balances at local government areas be strengthened.It stated, “Local Governments are very important tiers of government because they are nearer to the people. Unfortunately, the local government system has failed to deliver on its promises.
“The reason for the unsavoury trend has been the placement of the local government administration under the complete control of the state government. While state governors crave devolution of power from the Federal Government, they are reluctant to do so for local government . And they by doing so using the constitutional provision to deprive the third tier of government of what are due to them from the federation account.
“The Joint Account is one instrument state government use to eviscerate the local government councils. More troubling, the state governments use the State Electoral Commissions or Caretaker local Committees to approach to install their puppets at the expense of the wishes of the people with dire consequences to our democracy”
Commenting on state creation, it said, “It amounts to stating the obvious that the creation of states has brought some level of development across the country and stemmed mass movement to the former regional capitals.“But it seems the nation has reached a level where the exercise should stop or else the states shall become mere efforts or cost centres, which consume the needed resources for other important aspects of the nation’s socio-economic and political development.”
Meanwhile, a group, Anti-Corruption Network, on Tuesday said it “subscribed fully” to the inclusion of capital punishment in the nation’s legal system saying it would bring sanity to the system.
Its Executive Secretary, Dino Melaye, said Asian countries were better because of capital punishment which had been entrenched in their system.In an interview with The PUNCH, Melaye said capital punishment would “send ministers and all the thieves to their early graves.”
He said, “Capital punishment for corrupt people is a welcome idea by me. In countries like China, North and South Korea and Indonesia, where capital punishment for corruption is practiced, they are better off.
“So, I subscribe fully to capital punishment for corruption because all these criminals, ministers and thieves in this country by now would have been in their graves.”