Honourable Tim Owhefere is the Chief Whip of the Delta State House of Assembly representing the Isoko North constituency. Owhefere who is also a knight of St. Christopher bared his mind on the recent passage of a bill in the house that sentences kidnappers to death if found guilty and the ten years old democracy in Nigeria excerpts:
By EmmaÂ Ovuakporie
THE Delta State House of Assembly recently passed a bill which if assented to by the governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, would prescribe the death penalty for kidnappers. Do you think capital punishment is the best option?
Yes oh! Any kidnapper caught here in Delta must face the ultimate price which is death. There is no difference between an armed robber and a kidnapper so both should attract same capital punishment. As you are aware, these boys have abandoned armed robbery because kidnapping attracts lesser punishment. If you kidnap you spend three years in jail but once the governor assents to this bill if you kidnap here you die.
But it was rumoured that the House hastily passed the bill because a fellow legislator, Honourable Monday Igbuya, was kidnapped.
That is far from the truth because before our colleague was kidnapped the bill had already undergone second reading in the House.
Capital punishment is no longer fashionable in Europe and other parts of the world. The European Union (EU) recently expunged capital punishment from their statutes.
I completely disagree with that. How many times do you see armed robbers who openly kill because of money in Europe. Our environment is very peculiar, our people are stubborn and wicked that if we do not impose stiffer penalties here they will never change. Kidnapping is the same thing as armed robbery.
All the armed robbers here have shifted to kidnapping because it is more lucrative than armed robbery. Surveys conducted in some advanced countries, particularly the USA showed that states where you have capital punishment the rate of crime tend to be on the increase while states without capital punishment record lesser crime rate. These are countries with values, here we do not value anything, if Mr. A can kill Mr. B because of money then we have to be heartless if we have to deter them.
After the bill was passed we have not really heard of any kidnap story from your state?
Laughsâ€¦ because they know we are up to the task and they can now go back to their former trades which is armed robbery. And you know that it is still a bill until the governor assents then it becomes a law.
So you parliamentarians have no regrets for passing such a bill that sends citizens to death just like that.
Show remorse for killers, a kidnapper is a killer, you donâ€™t show mercy to one. One thing you must note is that both the kidnapper and the kidnapped lives have equal importance. If you can terminate that personâ€™s life, yours too can be terminated. In Europe such matters are treated with kid gloves, here we are ready to use stronger measures to deter them.
How is the relationship between the legislative arm and the executive. Is it still cordial?
Well, we have been working closely with the executive and the judiciary. So far so good, it has been very cordial and propelled in the right direction to enable our people get the dividends of democracy.
What are your views about our ten years old democracy?
Those who said it has been ten years of lost hopes and aspirations make me feel sorry for this country because all those people who belong to that school of thought are enemies of this country.
They say what they say because they are not in this government, they are all enemies of progress because once they are not part of government they must do everything to bring it down. Same people who served in the military government and saw nothing wrong with it are those complaining.
Suddenly their time is up so no government can do well except they are part of it. Yarâ€™dua is not a perfect arrangement, he is doing his best, we all know that nothing is perfect on earth.
How do you mean?
What I mean is that we donâ€™t expect Yarâ€™Adua to be a perfect human, but my own assessment is that the government is not doing badly generally.
But people are saying his seven-point agenda has failed totally.
The people who are criticizing him will never see anything good in this government because Mr. President is not giving them room to loot as usual. Even if he decides to be visiting them everyday they will never like him.
So if you are asked to score him what will you score him bearing in mined that the seven point agenda has been pointless?
Oh my God, who are those criticizing the seven-point agenda? What is their precedence have you asked yourself whether the criticisms are borne out of selfish intents or patriotism, because they are not part of this government they can never see anything good about Yarâ€™dua. All those criticizing this present administration are enemies of government.