DEATH PENALTY AND MENTAL HEALTH IN NIGERIA




Nigeria has applied the death penalty for more than 50 years with no serious attention paid to mental health. Mental health is a critical factor to consider at every stage of the death penalty process from before a person commits a crime through governments execution of the convicted person, and even post execution, as the death penalty affects the mental health of the families concerned.
Nigerian law recognizes insanity when proved as an exemption to criminal liability for capital offenses. However, it is unclear on other forms of mental health problems like mental retardation or personality disorders. Mental retardation is a condition in which a person’s mental capacity has not developed during childhood and adolescence leaving the person less able to adapt to independent life and decision making. Personality disorder is not a mental illness that can be treated with drugs or therapy but rather constitutes a behavioral condition in which the affected person can lack empathy and understanding of others and can disregard social and legal conventions.
Instances abound every day in Nigeria where accused persons with serious mental health problems are put on trial without adequate support where they are unable to participate effectively in their own defence.  A case in point which adequately captures Nigeria’s disregard for mental health conditions is that of late Mr. Clifford Orji. Mr. Orji, it will be recalled, was arrested on February 3, 1999 at Toyota Bus-stop along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos for allegedly preying on unsuspecting passersby as a cannibal. He was paraded before newsmen as “mentally depraved”. The Divisional Police Officer of the police station where he was taken said at the time “from his actions during interrogation, it is obvious the man is mad” He cited three reasons for his convictions: people who live around the area said the man was often naked. Again he was incoherent while responding to questions. And, thirdly, the police picked him naked and provided him with a pair of shorts thereafter. Even before any psychiatric evaluation, it was obvious to the police that Mr. Orji was not normal; which meant that he needed help. But he was still arraigned at the Ebute Metta Magistrate Court and remanded at Kirikiri prison. Despite interventions on his behalf by prison authorities and civil society organizations, the Lagos state government did not provide him any care.  Mr. Orji died on August 3, 2012 in Kirikiri prison. He spent 13 years in prison without trial and care.
Shocking reports have also been received of families that collude with the police to remand in prison family members with mental health problems to avoid taking care of them. Federal and State Governments in Nigeria need to extend exemptions to criminal liabilities to include mental retardation and personality disorder especially for capital offenses, and where necessary make adequate provision for legal assistance for accused persons with mental health conditions. Mental health is not a crime. We should Care and Not Kill.

OF ELECTRICITY TARRIFS AND INCREASE




In the wake of the proposed increase in electricity tariffs, we strongly believe there is no legal, social or even moral justification for this act.

Our belief is premised on the following:

  1. Breach of Law:Section 76 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, provides an elaborate consultative process before any tariff increase takes effect. By failing to follow this procedure NERC, the GenCos and DisCos are acting unlawfully and must be stopped.
  2. Contempt of Court:There is a subsisting court order dated May 28, 2015 by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi v. NERC & Others, that there shall be no further increment until the determination of the substantive suit.  The implementation of increased tariff is therefore an act of lawlessness in a democracy.
  3. Breach of Privatization Undertakings:Most consumers are not metered in accordance with the signed privatisation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of November 1, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered. Distribution companies have continued to exploit Nigerians using opaque estimated billing system for the majority of consumers whilst deliberately refusing to make available prepaid meters.
  4. Rip Off/Credibility Question: There is no correlation between the quality of service delivery and tariff. There has been no significant improvement in service delivery. In Apapa where we reside and represent over 2000 residents, our annual electricity bill is about N3.5 Million annually. When we include the cost of diesel and generator repair our electricity cost becomes even more outrageous. In 2015, we spent over N=50 Million on Diesel and generator repairs. When again multiplied by 2000 it is over a N100 Billion annually.
  5. Insensitivity:The increment at this time negates the present biting and prevailing economic recession which has adversely reduced the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians and slowed down businesses, including manufacturing. The current hike is not only insensitive but unjustifiable. It cannot stand.
  6. 6. How Not to Create Wealth:The increment is a clear negation of the current Government’s drive to create wealth through entrepreneurship. By raising the bar in accessing electricity, small businesses are being technically driven away. How can we create wealth when doing business in Nigeria continues to remain a nightmare?

Conclusion/Recommendations

In the light of the above, this unjustifiable increase in electricity tariff is a direct blow on the Change Agenda. If it is allowed to stand, it would put serious question marks on the sustainability of the much lauded ideological change in governance.  We therefore, expect the Federal government to urgently review its privatisation contracts with GenCos and DisCos.

In the proposed review, we suggest that at least two (2) year time-frame should be given to firms in the Electric Power Sector to allow them stabilize and provide efficient power supply to Nigerians before they can contemplate any tariff increase. Any such proposed increase must follow due consultation process.

Finally, government must not forget that it owes it as a duty to continue to monitor private partners in this regard. Left on its own, privatization could be a tool for oppression. That is why Government that has the interest of the masses at heart must step in and prevent the greed of a few private actors from obstructing the more enduring project of empowering the general populace.

Dr. Willy Mamah and Collins Okeke   

Stop Crime, Not Lives – Abolish the Death Penalty

For more than 15 years the Federal Government and state governments in Nigeria, contrary to international law have continued to extend crimes to which the death penalty applies. The moment a crime assumes notoriety or begins to overwhelm law enforcement agents, governments’ response has been to impose the death penalty for such crime(s). When kidnapping became the trend in South-east and South-south Nigeria most affected state governments prescribed the death penalty.

The Federal Government responded to the surge in terrorism in the North-east and North-west Nigeria by imposing the death penalty. There is even a clamour that the death penalty be made to apply to official corruption, vandalization of oil installations, and oil bunkering. What advocates for the death penalty fail to understand is that the death penalty does not keep society safe.

Our Latest Tweets

Anti-Torture Act 2017 - Issues and Implication for Police Officers https://t.co/gD7x5iYsj8 https://t.co/vcLxNtg50o
RT @hurilaws: Musings from the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty https://t.co/FFAtB4Ta8A https://t.co/7BtYxpiFyl

Contact Us

  Left Wing, 1st Floor, 34, Creek Road
Apapa, Lagos. Nigeria

 +234 1 342 6522

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 8.00 am to 5.00 pm - Monday - Friday