North Demands Death Penalty For Corruption

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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.”

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