The Nigerian Senate on Friday said it adopted the death penalty as punishment for acts of terrorism due to Nigeria’s peculiar circumstances.
The National Assembly at its sitting on Thursday approved the death penalty for acts of terrorism in Nigeria following the recommendations contained in a conference committee report of both houses.
The report was on a harmonised version of a Bill for an Act to amend the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 and for Other Related Matters.
The spokesman of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview, that the choice of the death penalty was informed by the existing situation in the country.
“This is Nigeria and we are going to do laws based on extant things happening in our country. We cannot afford to use what is done in other countries to resolve our peculiarities.
“So we are adopting this amendment to address the problem that is peculiar to Nigeria,’’ Abaribe said.
Senator Victor Lar (PDP-Plateau), who is also a member of the committee, also told NAN on telephone, that the earlier recommendation of life imprisonment was too lenient for such a crime.
“The life imprisonment sentence as opposed to the death penalty, particularly, for perpetrators of terrorist acts that results in the death of citizens is not decisive enough.’’
Lar, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, added that prisoners kept for a long time might be granted amnesty while perpetrators of terrorism acts might go scot-free at the end of the day.
“Take for instance the case of the Libyan terrorists who bombed Lockerbie, they were eventually released and were given heroic welcome.’’
The Senate version of the amended bill had prescribed life imprisonment for acts of terrorism while the House of Representatives version prescribed death penalty.
Members of the conference committee deliberated and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of both penalties and eventually adopted the death penalty.
Nigeria is beset by the twin terrorism of Niger Delta militancy and Boko Haram insurgency.