A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Moshood Oshun, has explained the inclusion of a death penalty in the recently passed bill against kidnapping by the Assembly.
The bill was passed into law by the lawmakers of the House after it scaled the third reading of the House. It is currently awaiting the assent of the governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
The bill, as passed into law, stipulates that a kidnapper would face the death penalty if it is discovered that a victim ended up dying in his custody.
Among others, it also stipulates a life imprisonment for those found guilty of kidnapping.
Ordinarily, death penalty is being frowned against in some quarters, but Hon Oshun said the punishment is justified according to its placement in the law.
“We need to understand the physical and psychological torture faced by a person who is abducted. In fact, it would take a special grace for a victim to ever recover from the incident.
“Compared to the same law in some other states, it is outright death for a kidnapper found guilty irrespective of whether the victim died in his custody or not.
“But here in Lagos, we respect the sanctity of the human person and this is why we did not follow the general pattern of death penalty. In our case, the kidnapper will only be sentenced to death if the victim died in his or her custody. This is just a simple tit-for-tat.
Again, most laws are not just about punishment, but deterrent. A Nigerian resident in Lagos and thinking of engaging in this kind of crime would definitely withdraw upon knowing that he has no escape route with this kind of law,” Oshun, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Public Account for State, said.
According to him, the lawmakers have become very concerned about cases of kidnapping in some parts of the state like Ikorodu and Epe.
He argued that if left unattended to, it would encourage those who are into the criminal act, cause fear among the citizens and ultimately affect the security and economic situations of the state, which he described as a mini-Nigeria.
“When the security system is seen to have failed and kidnapping becomes a trending thing, how many people would be free to go about their businesses? In this case, who suffers? There are a lot of things we must consider in looking at the law,” he said in a statement from his media office.
The law also states that any building found to be used by kidnappers to carry out their acts would be confiscated and the owner of the building or facility prosecuted.
Oshun expressed optimism that the law would help to make every Lagosian conscious of his environment since no landlord would want to face the double punishment of having his property taken away from him and facing prosecution.
Now, he said, no landlord would claim he does not know the kind of job his tenants are into or what they do for living.
The lawmaker said instead of the controversies that surrounds whether death penalty should be introduced or not, Lagosians and the civil society should engage in enlightening people on the consequence of criminal acts like kidnapping.
He also expressed optimism that Governor Ambode would assent to it as it has become important to the protection of lives and properties which is one of the major duties of a government.