NEWS

Senate Approves Death Penalty For Drug Dealers, Importers

The amendment specifically targets those engaged in the importation or dealership of hard drugs, as outlined in Section 11 of the existing law.

By Musa Ibrahim

On Thursday, the Senate approved a measure to impose the death penalty on individuals involved in the importation, manufacturing, trafficking, dealing, or delivery of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

This decision, reached during deliberations on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024, marks a significant shift from the current maximum penalty of life imprisonment for such offenses. Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) proposed this change, seeking to toughen the punishment for drug-related crimes.

The amendment specifically targets those engaged in the importation or dealership of hard drugs, as outlined in Section 11 of the existing law.

He said, “This (life imprisonment) should be changed to a death sentence. This is the standard worldwide. We have to do this to address this problem of drugs that has seriously affected our youths.

“It should be toughened beyond life imprisonment. It should be the death sentence, either by hanging or any way.”

Some of his fellow senators, including former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, expressed their discontent with this proposal. Oshiomhole emphasized on the seriousness of issues related to life and death, stating that he does not take them lightly.

“When a matter has to do with life and death, we should be accountable. Let’s divide the Senate. This is lawmaking. We are not here to take voice votes,” Oshiomhole said.

His position was overruled by the Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin, who presided over the plenary.

Jibrin told Oshiomhole that he should have called for a division of the Senate immediately after the voting took place and before the Senate moved to another clause in the amendment bill.

“This is about procedure. You were supposed to call for a division; you didn’t do so. I am sorry, I can’t help you”, the DSP stood his ground and stuck with the decision of the Senate.

Likewise, Senator Sampson Ekong from Akwa Ibom State objected to the Senate’s decision, but his concerns were disregarded as the Senate proceeded to pass the bill for a third reading. The report on the bill was prepared collaboratively by the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Drugs and Narcotics.

Following the plenary session, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Mohammed Monguno, informed Senate correspondents that despite opposition from Oshiomhole and others, the Senate ratified the death penalty provision, indicating that the presiding officer’s decision remained unchanged.

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