CAN, others differ on death penalty for corruption

November 16, 2012 by Friday Olokor and Ihuoma Chiedozie

The Christian Association of Nigeria on Thursday said capital punishment was needed in some cases of corruption in the country.

The CAN General Secretary, Dr. Musa Asake, who said this in a telephone interview with our correspondent, however, stated that there was the need to define corruption.

Asake was reacting to the Arewa Consultative Forum’s demand for death penalty for corruption cases.

He said, “First of all, what is the definition of corruption? It is very difficult because there are different levels of corruption and there are those that steal with biro, while others loot the nation’s treasury through many other means.

“However, capital punishment is needed in some areas because corruption generally seems to have been entrenched in our system. But for now, we need to define what corruption is in Nigeria.”

According to him, there is a great task before the National Assembly, which he said should come out with a definition of corruption.

He said, “For now, capital punishment without defining what corruption is would be very difficult because even in offices, people steal in different ways through impersonation and embezzlement of billions and stealing peoples salaries.

“So, are we going to put them in the same rank with the same law applying to all of them? So that is why the National Assembly should come out to define capital punishment and CAN would be able to explain very well based on that definition.”

But the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders opposed the ACF’s call.

Its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, in an email to our correspondent, said, “As much as we are worried about the recalcitrance of corruption culprits in Nigeria, death penalty cannot solve the problem.

“It would reduce the frequency no doubt, but corruption criminals may become more brazen in their game. They will steal so large so they’ll feel comfortable dying for their progeny to remember them to have made eternal wealth for them.

“Death penalty is a denial of the offender’s right to life. This is barbaric in the modern world notwithstanding it has worked in Ghana, Asian countries etc.”

According to him, such penalty presupposes that neither the accusers nor the trial judge could make mistakes.

He said, “If it turns out that a mistake was made while the culprit had been executed it can never be reversed. The country would have lost its property and a fraction of its workforce.

“Rather than kill them, corrupt criminals should lose, not only the direct proceeds of corruption they’re found guilty of but also whatever wealth and property they might have accummulated in their lifetime to the state. Such would be deemed to have been gotten through corruption.”

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission on Thursday said the Arewa Consultative Forum has the right to demand the introduction of the death penalty for corruption related offences.

The Chairman of the NHRC, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said the ACF made the call in line with its right to freedom of expression.

However, Odinkalu, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, refrained from supporting or opposing the ACF’s demand.

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