Nigeria’s Senate Okays death penalty for drug trafficking - Ripples Nigeria
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Nigeria’s Senate Okays death penalty for drug trafficking



Senate Confirms 11 Supreme Court Justices

The Senate on Thursday approved death sentence as penalty for drug trafficking and other substances in Nigeria.

This followed the passage of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Amendment Bill 2024.

The Red Chamber also prescribed at least 15 years imprisonment without the option of a fine for the consumption of hard drugs and substances.

The parliament passed the bill after adopting the report of Senate Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Drugs and Narcotics on the NDLEA Amendment Act presented by the Chairman, Senator Mohammmed Monguno, at the plenary in Abuja.

Monguno in his presentation said the amendment sought to strengthen the operations of the NDLEA, empower its operations to establish laboratories for forensic review and update the list of dangerous drugs.

He said the amendment was also designed to review penalties and enhance the powers of the NDLEA to prosecute drug-related offences and issue subsidiary legislation.

The lawmaker recalled that the Senate on February 28, deliberated on the bill which was transmitted from the House of Representatives for concurrence.

He said it was important to make a general comment on the bill, especially on the classification of the offences and penalty categorisations of drug-related offences.

Monguno said: “These guidelines in drug laws are designed to promote fairness, consistency and proportionality in the criminal justice system while considering the broader goals of rehabilitation and public safety.

“It is also important to note that several variables are used in determining the penalties imposed on a suspect.

“This includes type and quantity of controlled substance, defendant’s criminal history, intent behind drug-related activities, aggravating or mitigating circumstance such as organised crime, violence, use of offensive weapon.

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“Others like endangerment of minors can aggravate penalties, conversely mitigating factors like cooperation with law enforcement or lack of prior criminal record may lessen the severity of punishment.”

Before the passage of the bill, the Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume, moved a motion for amendment to clause 11 of the bill which initially prescribed life imprisonment for drug and substances trafficking in Nigeria.

Ndume had called for stiffer sanctions and moved a motion for a death sentence.

The motion was seconded by the Senator from Ebonyi State, Onyekachi Nwaebonyi , who said drug and substance trafficking was doing greater harm to the nation and hence a stiffer penalty for offenders.

When the motion on the death penalty was put to vote, the “Yes” had their way as the Deputy Senate President, Barau Jubrin, who presided over the plenary ruled in favour of the “Yes.”

However, the decision did not go well with the Senator representing Edo North, Adams Oshiomhole, who objected to the ruling.

The former Edo State governor pointed out that he was responsible to his constituents for every law passed in the Senate.

He said issues of life and death should not be passed based on “Yes or No” responses and advocated for voting by every senator.

The first and only time Nigeria executed drug traffickers was during the military regime of Muhammadu Buhari in 1984.

The trio of Bernard Ogedegbe, Batholomew Owoh and Lawal Ojulope were sentenced to death by a special military tribunal set up by the junta and executed a few days later despite appeals for clemency by civil society organisations and concerned international bodies.

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