By Dapo Akinrefon
THE Senator Representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa has advocated stiffer penalties for drug offenders even as a bill seeking to Amend the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Act CAP N30 has passed second reading.
The bill seeks firstly to ensure the adherence of Judges to the provisions of the Act.
The lawmakers pointed out that the stiff punishment originally prescribed by the Act is to deter people from engaging in drug related activities, adding that the “actions of some judges in passing light sentences only makes a mockery of the deterrent nature of the Act thereby sending a wrong message to drug dealers and traffickers, their countries, our youths and the international community.”
The bill seeks to amend Section 26 of the Act by including an additional clause, which makes it mandatory for judges to impose the sentences stipulated in the Act for convicts, removing completely the discretion which the judges have arbitrarily exercised.
The clause states that: “The penalties provided for in this Act shall be adhered to, and notwithstanding any provision in any other law or rule of practice, a trial judge shall not have the power to vary such penalties either by imposing a lesser term of imprisonment or granting a convict an option of fine.”
The Senator, argued that the economic realty of the country today has rendered the N20, 000.00 fine paltry and unrealistic which necessitates the increase to N100, 000.00.