Advocating The Death Penalty; Because I am Against It!
In the past, I have stated my very vehement opposition to the application of the capital punishment or death penalty in Nigeria, my opposition was absolute; But certain circumstances have compelled me to do a rethink, the magnitude and profoundness of the crises that Nigeria face, also requires the prescription of radical and drastic solutions!
Medical doctors who are cancer specialists do not recommend mastectomy , unless as last resort to save the patients other body part and life, to avoid spread, it is drastic and radical, Nigeria as the patient in this instance requires drastic and radical solutions to the public and private sector corruptions that have caused Nigeria to hemorrhage resources for far too long, more about this shortly, here is the relationship of this thinking, with the impositions or application of capital punishment or the death penalty.
The argument against the application of the death penalty in Nigeria and everywhere else is sound, it is mostly based in part, on its potentials for barbarity and spectacular errors and miscarriage of justice, such as executing a falsely accused person or even an innocent.
Another sound argument against capital punishment, is that, it, in all probabilities, desensitizes the societies that inflict this ultimate punishment on violent offenders and other wrongdoers.
Additionally, it have been argued, that the death penalty does not act as a sufficient deterrence against violent crimes, because, the recipients are too-dead to be deterred from committing future violent crimes, and on the other hand, the infliction/imposition of the death penalty, have not produced a violent-crime-free, a murder and homicide-free societies or world.
Empirically, it is impossible to perhaps measure, with mathematical precision or certainty, how many people in the world have been saved because of deterrence or how many people have restrained themselves from violent crimes, such as crimes of the homicide or murder varieties, because of their knowledge of probable consequences for the crime, the likelihood of the imposition of the ultimate punishment.
There are, of course, the religious dimensions to the arguments in favor and or against the death penalty -capital punishment.
On one side, it is argued that religion and morals dictate or demand and requires an eye-for-an-eye, law of Moses biblical injunctions.
On the other side, non-secularly, it is argued, by some academics, notably, lawyers and sociologists, that, anyone who knowingly commit murder-homicide by the unlawful taking of another's life and thereby constituting themselves into Judge-Jury-Executioner rolled into one, of the homicide-murder victim, who has been arbitrarily judged and executed without recourse to proper legal process, due process or fair trial!
Murder-homicide, is therefore seen as the worst form of legal vigilantism or a resort to legal self-help, which must never be encouraged in Nigeria or anywhere else!
There are several competing intelligent arguments on both sides of the death penalty-capital punishment spectrum.
For instance, it is well established in Nigeria and worldwide, that the poor of human societies bear, the brunt of the application of capital punishment-death penalty, and by a preponderance of the available evidence, the majority, among those who disproportionately receive the death penalty sentences, and this is not peculiar to Nigeria.
In America, citizens who are found guilty of fraud, insider trading, heinous drug dealing and corporate bankruptcies like the Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen magnitude, with their attendant reverberations and ramifications on the US economy and by extension, the world economy, translating into mammoth job loses and the equally great loses in zillions of dollars, coupled with the abyss-ed retirement funds and pension plans, inumerable and incalculable human sufferings, hardships and human losses
And yet, the perpetrators of earthquake-like and endless-aftershock-like frauds such as Enron, WorldCom etc only receive jail sentences! These offenders in America, Nigeria and elsewhere, only receive prison terms, in mostly minimum security prisons and without hard labor, and in the US, some have cynically compared these light sentences to the equivalence of a compelled stay at holiday resorts of the Club Med-types!
Even though these offenders perpetrators of giant and gargantuan frauds of 8.0 on the Richter scale, have caused more death directly and indirectly, more than any mass murderer, these corporate fraudsters in Enron, WorldCom etc, and the fabled public officials in Nigeria, have directly caused loss of lives, and suffering and hardship to hundreds of millions of people and as they cause loss of properties.
Conversely, a violent pick-pocket or a person who steals a bicycle in New York, (yes! Bicycles get stolen in New York!) or steals goat in Mkar Gboko, with any arms or weapons, with a resulting violence, injury or death, is herded to the hangman, the executioner after a nearly automatic death sentence?
Clearly, no medical doctor, lawyer or accountants or successful businessperson becomes an armed robber, or steals bicycles or goats in America or Nigeria, in other words, no rational person, with good fortunes and reasonable expectations emigrate from Nigeria swimming through the Atlantic Ocean or crossing desolate deserts, but only out of desperations, just as no rational persons with a good job or better opportunities, take to stealing goats or bicycles, violently or otherwise.
Most crimes result from poverty and desperation and a lack of opportunity and hope, a lack of hope, deprivation and poverty in Nigeria and elsewhere are induced by corrupt public officials and greed and avarice by bad corporate executives.
There is in my view, therefore, clearly a correlation between poverty , deprivation and a lack of opportunities, happiness, or a lack of the possibility of attaining good, reasonable expectations of life and commission of crimes, especially, some violent crimes.
This brings me to why the death penalty or capital punishment may be appropriate, in my view, only in certain circumstances and certain circumstances alone. Pervasive corruption that all are agreed pervades?
Nigeria should only apply the capital punishment-death penalty in cases involving corruption by public officials concerning Nigerian public treasuries, and also apply it in cases of corruption in by corporate executives in the private sector.
When and if, Nigeria imposes the death penalty on corrupt public officials and corrupt corporate executives, who have collectively acted in concert to thwart Nigeria's development, stymied and stifled Nigeria's progress, those who have caused the loss of lives of many Nigerians, those who have caused Nigerians frustrations and heartache, I will become the loudest and biggest supporter and advocate of the death penalty-capital punishment in Nigeria
But until then? I remain vehemently opposed to the death penalty, which primarily targets the poor, the dregs and those already made wretched by the avarice and greed of others, those who were deprived of life's opportunities, mostly by corrupt public officials and their corrupt counterparts in the private sector!
Nigeria should not be a member of nations that amputate or execute the poor for stealing goats or bicycles!
August 27, 2003