ByÂ Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRIâ€”The Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Chief Goodluck Opiah, has signed into law the Imo State Prohibition of Hostage Taking and Related Offences Law, Number 4 of 2009â€.
Governor Ikedi Ohakim, had withheld his assent to the Bill, earlier passed by the assemblymen, which prescribed death penalty for anybody found guilty of kidnapping or any of its related offences, but the House elected to pass it by two-third majority of votes at its last sitting.
Ohakim urged the lawmakers to delete the death penalty prescribed in the Law, to read â€œlife sentenceâ€ for those convicted for the offence but the lawmakers maintained their ground, unanimously vetoed the position of the Governor and got the Speaker to sign it.
Speaking after signing the Law, Opiah said that he merely exercised his constitutional power, enshrined in Section 100, Sub-Section 34 and 35 of theÂ constitution.
â€œThe effect is that the Bill has become Law in Imo State. The major point is that any person found guilty by this Law shall be punished by deathâ€, Opiah said.
According to the Speaker, the House took the stand not minding that Amnesty International and civil societies in Europe and America have continued to object to the provision of death penalty in the Law, as explained by Governor Ohakim as his reason for withholding his assent.
â€œWe cannot afford Imo State to be a haven for hostage takers. This is our way of checking the menace. The menace is increasing unemployment in the land. What we exercise today is purely our constitutional rightsâ€, the Speaker said.
Opiah denied suggestion that his action could strain the cordial relationship existing between the executive and the legislature, adding that the same provision was made in similar laws in Ebonyi State and in some other states of the federation.