By Ochereome Nnanna
ON the occasion of this year’s Father’s Day, President Goodluck Jonathan called on state governors to pick up courage and sign death warrants of felons sentenced to death by courts of competent jurisdictions.
As usual, reactions followed, with some critics asking how many death warrants he signed as Governor of Bayelsa State; a position he held for all of 18 months.
It was a legitimate question, unless there was no death sentence convict in Bayelsa jails during his tenure. Leadership by example is always better than mere rhetoric.
I have a lot of respect for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Governor of Edo State. He is a bold man with the courage of his personal convictions. He signed the warrants for the execution of two convicts prison authorities in Benin described as “unmanageable inmates” who attempted a jailbreak. It caused a rumpus among some human rights activists, but the Governor was not fazed.
You see, we live in a country where hypocrisy and double standards are celebrated as virtues. It is so rife that a popular musician adopted the name: Tuface! A typical politician in Nigeria will arm young, unemployed men or contract the job of harassing, intimidating or even killing his opponents to cultists and area boys to win elections. He will practically trample on the corpses of those he killed to climb into the seat of power.
But when a warrant for the execution of those convicted in court is brought before him he will grow lily-livered. He will shy away.
He will begin to listen to the platitudes of human rights activists in the payroll of Western interests intent on imposing their norms on the rest of the world.
They plant agents in all poverty-stricken entities around the world to propagate abnormalities and taboos such as same-sex marriage in the name of “human rights” and “freedom”. Some of these Western countries had the temerity to warn they would stop aid to Nigeria if the legislation against same-sex marriage and homosexuality was passed into law.
Happily, the Senate has made good its promise and passed the Bill which prescribes punitively against the perverse sexuality. That is as it should be.
We in Africa must hold on to our cherished social etiquettes rooted in our religious and cultural mores. We must not follow sheepishly the Western societies that have lost grip of theirs in favour of atheistic and Darwinist libertinism.
It is mainly due to the loose morals which now dominate Western societies that their societies are in sharp decline, socially and economically. The future belongs to Africa and we cannot get there without, like the Asians, maintaining our unique, sound cultural character.
There are no human rights for those who commit the high crimes that result in death penalties: murder, violent robberies, kidnapping, terrorism and others. There are no human rights for those who willfully, and in a premeditated manner, deprive others of their right to life.
The other day, we all read about three herbalists from Ogun State (there are evil men in all tribes or states; we are just giving an example of what happens everywhere these days).
These men were caught with fresh human parts and when interviewed by reporters at a police public parading, they said they preferred live human beings to dead ones, being more “lucrative”.
After reading that story I could not eat my lunch! Then, tomorrow I become a governor. The courts condemn these evil men to death. I want to sign their warrants to go and face the music and some comedians will come and preach human rights to me!
The death penalty is still a valid and welcome method of ensuring justice is done. Correction alone should not be the objective of penalties against our laws. Justice is very important too. How do you “correct” a person who has willfully taken away the life of a fellow human being? You can correct a thief through imprisonment and while in jail, train him or her in skill acquisition and thus give him/her a chance to turn a new leaf after jail.
But a person who kills another in a gruesomely willful manner is a different ball game. The person whose life he has terminated as well as his/her family and friends need JUSTICE.
The law must fight back on their behalf. This is important, in order to create deterrence and reduce the impulse for vengeance. A governor who gets the opportunity to help the injured party to obtain justice and flunks it has failed in his duties to protect the interests of the innocent, injured party.
It is a mark of great injustice – in fact rubbing salt into an injury – for a person who KILLS to be sentenced to LIFE! He is sent to a government facility to be fed, clothed and housed, at tax payer’s expense, for the rest of his life, while the person he murdered rots away in the grave! It is the duty of the state to administer justice on behalf of victimised citizens and in accordance to the laws of the land. And it is the duty of the governor to see that this process is successfully concluded.
Human rights activists will be doing society a greater service by channelling most of their energies to the sensitisation of the citizenry on the sanctity of life, with emphasis on the need to avoid depriving others of their lives, liberty or dignity. We must all go back to the cherished African concept of collectively raising young people to live peacefully, respecting themselves and others, particularly those older than them, and “keeping their hands clean”.
But once a person crosses the line and takes the life of another person, and the courts convict him with death sentence, Mr Governor must sign the instrument of legal death administration.
That’s part of the job of being His Excellency!