While civil society groups in Edo state were on 18th October, 2013 meeting at the NUJ Press Centre, Benin, to discuss how to improve administration of criminal justice in the state, the State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was pandering to the public by signing into effect a law that prescribes the death penalty for kidnapping.

Without prejudice to the powers of the Edo State Government to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the state, we believe this latest action is ill conceived. Edo state is not the only state that has prescribed the death penalty for kidnapping. Several other states (like Bayelsa, Anambra etc) have done same but it has not stopped kidnapping or any other crime.

Like we have continued to point out, the death penalty does not keep any society safe. It does not deter criminals.  It may pander to the outrage of society but it does not abate or remove the crime or offense, which should be the interest of government. The best way to solve crime is to prevent it or at best apprehend the offender but when a criminal justice system is too weak to resolve crimes and apprehend offenders, the penalties no matter how severe will have no deterrent effect.

Edo state (for instance) has one of the oldest criminal laws in Nigeria – the Bendel State Criminal Code 1976. Rather than continue to emphasize the death penalty as the panacea to crime, we would advise the Edo state Government to follow the example of Lagos state by reforming its criminal laws, procedures and institutions. That can be a first step. What we need to stop is crime, not lives.

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