NLC, TUC want death penalty on corrupt officials

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress-have jointly called for capital punishment for anybody found guilty of corruption in the country.

The President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, and his counterpart in the TUC, Mr. Bobboi Kaigama, made the call on Tuesday at a press conference on a national rally against corruption.

The rally is scheduled for Thursday (tomorrow).

The union leaders said they would lead workers in a solidarity march to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Assembly complex and the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to declare support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign against corruption.

Wabba said, “He who goes to equity must go with clean hand. Part of the attributes of good governance is that we must have a minimum standard of transparency and accountability.

“If capital punishment was introduced and worked elsewhere to eliminate corruption, then we are for it. If it worked in China, we must be ambitious enough to move beyond our lamentation to arrive at our destination.

“The organised labour is in support of capital punishment to eradicate or at least reduce the scourge of corruption.

“In the twilight of the last administration, there were allegations by no less a person than the former Governor of the CBN, Sanusi Lamido, that billions of dollars was unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; this led to his eventual suspension from office as CBN governor.

“The Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative indicated losses due to crude oil swaps to subsidy and domestic crude allocations from 2005 to 2012, showing that USD$11.63bn had been paid to the NNPC, but that there was no evidence of the money being remitted to the Federation Account. NEITI also discovered that another USD$11.6bn was missing from Nigeria’s Liquefied Natural Gas company dividend payment.”

He called on the Federal Government to ensure that all looted funds were recovered and that all those who stole the nation’s resources are prosecuted.

Kaigama called for the establishment of special courts to try corruption cases.

He said that the call for the establishment of the special courts became necessary in view of the fact that those who looted the treasury had taken advantage of the lapses in the judicial system to scuttle the cases.

He also called for the abolition of the joint accounts between the states and the local government areas, stressing that the accounts were being used to carry out massive fraud.

The TUC president said, “We strongly feel that it is better now than ever to address the issue of governance and corruption. Over the last 20 years, we have never experienced a situation where Nigerian workers would go home without salaries for eight months. What is responsible for this is corruption, bad leadership; not putting the right persons in places.

“With the advent of a leadership who feels that Nigeria must be fixed, we deem it fit to support the battle against corruption. If we don’t fight corruption, corruption will eat us up. We have never experienced a situation where states and local government will be bailed out. If we don’t take steps now, this country will not get out of the woods. We are out to support the fight against corruption.

“We call for the establishment of special anti-corruption courts to try suspects since those who looted our treasury are now adept at exploiting the holes in the legal system to delay cases. The National Assembly should give us enabling law to fight corruption; also it should be compulsory for all public office holders to declare their assets.”

He also enjoined anti-corruption agents to “extend their search to states and local governments”, arguing that the level of impunity at the local governments and states “is more vicious.”

“Government should also abolish the joint account between states and local government areas because they used to commit a lot of fraud at these levels,” he added.

But some lawyers, who reacted to the labour position on Tuesday, said killing looters was not the best cure for corruption.

They said emphasis should rather be placed on ensuring that thieves do not enjoy the proceeds of their crime by ensuring that whatever they stole was recovered.

Wahab Shittu, a Lagos-based lawyer, suggested that while assets recovery should be the main prescription, looters should also be sentenced to long term imprisonment.

He said, “For corruption to be reduced to the barest minimum level, there should no doubt be consequences, but I don’t agree that such consequences should extend to death penalty. I believe that there should rather be long prison terms for the offence of corruption; at least a period of not less than 25 years, plus the forfeiture of the proceeds of corruption.

“The punishment should not be such that a corrupt person is now deprived the right of existence. Once someone dies, he’s gone and would not even be alive to witness the consequences of his action.”

Also, the Executive Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni , said though corruption was a grave crime, recovery of loot rather than death penalty should be emphasised.

“I doubt whether dealt penalty would help to stem the tide of corruption in the country. Indeed, I am an advocate of abolition of death penalty for all kinds of offences. As a matter of fact, we have sufficient laws in Nigeria that, if properly and diligently implemented, can root out the cankerworm of corruption,” Mumuni said.

He added, “I would rather suggest that we should concentrate on loot recovery. I would suggest that once you are found guilty of any corruption issue, even all those things that you have acquired legitimately should also be forfeited apart from all the ones you acquired through corrupt means.

“If you say death penalty, are you saying that when the man is gone his relation can continue to enjoy the loot? So, my suggestion is that the proceeds of corruption and every other thing that you have acquired should be forfeited to the government once you are found guilty of corruption. That way, the person will live to see the consequence of his criminal act.”

The National Coordinator of the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, also killing corrupt persons was not right.

“That is not right. It is not done anywhere, except in China and even in China it is now getting less popular. I think that what the public is really interested in is the recovery of asset; the killing of a corrupt person is not in the interest of the public,” he said.

However, another Lagos lawyer, Fred Agbaje, said death penalty was okay for looters.

“Although, globally, these days, dealt penalty is getting out of vogue, particularly in the international community. But despite that, the corruption situation in Nigeria has become so grave that any right thinking member of the Nigerian society should applaud death penalty for corrupt elements. The level of corruption in China, which adopted death penalty, is not even as grave as that of Nigeria,” he argued.

 



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