Senate Impose Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking

The Senate on Thursday passed a significant amendment to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Bill 2024, introducing the death penalty for trafficking in hard drugs and substances within Nigeria.

It also prescribed not more than 15 years imprisonment without the option of fine, for conviction on consumption of hard drugs and substances.

This decision came after a thorough consideration of the report presented by the Senate Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Drugs and Narcotics during plenary. Senator Mohammmed Monguno (APC – Borno), the Chairman of the committee, delivered the report.

In his presentation, Senator Monguno outlined the objectives of the amendment, highlighting its aims to strengthen NDLEA’s operations, establish forensic laboratories, update the list of dangerous drugs, and enhance the agency’s prosecutorial powers.

Monguno in his presentation said the amendment sought to strengthen operations of the  NDLEA, empower its operations to establish laboratories for forensic review and update list of dangerous drugs.

He said the amendment was also designed to review penalties and enhance powers of the NDLEA to prosecute drug related offences and issue subsidiary legislation.

He stressed the importance of understanding the sentencing guidelines used in determining drug-related offences, which aim to ensure fairness, consistency, and proportionality in the criminal justice system.

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Factors such as the type and quantity of controlled substances, criminal history, and intent behind drug-related activities are considered in determining penalties.

The senate had on Feb.28, deliberated on the bill, which was transmitted from the House of Representatives for  senate’s  concurrence.

“These guidelines in drug laws are designed to promote fairness, consistency and proportionality in the criminal justice system, while considering the broader goals of rehabilitation and public safety.

“It is also important to note that several variables are used in  determining the penalties imposed on a suspect.

“This includes type and quantity of controlled substance, defendant’s criminal history, intent behind drug-related activities, aggravating or mitigating circumstance such as organised crime, violence, use of offensive weapon.

“Others like  endangerment of minors can aggravate penalties,  conversely mitigating factors like cooperation with law enforcement or lack of prior criminal record may lessen the severity of punishment.”

During the clause-by-clause consideration, Senator Ali Ndume (APC – Borno) proposed an amendment to clause 11 of the bill, advocating for the imposition of the death penalty instead of life imprisonment for drug trafficking offences.

This motion was supported by Senator Onyekachi Nwaebonyi (APC – Ebonyi), who emphasized the grave harm caused by drug trafficking and the need for stiffer penalties.

The decision to adopt the motion for the death penalty was affirmed through a voice vote, with Deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jubrin (APC – Kano), presiding over the session.

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However, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC – Edo) raised objections, expressing concerns about the gravity of the decision and advocating for a formal voting process.

In response, Deputy President Barau explained the procedure and recommended that objections should have been raised earlier for a division to be called.

He clarified that the ruling in favour of the “yes” votes was not arbitrary but followed parliamentary protocol.

The Senate’s decision marks a significant shift in Nigeria’s approach to combating drug trafficking, signaling a more stringent stance against this illicit activity.

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