PREVALENCE OF DRUGS AND CULTISM AMONG YOUTHS: STIFFER PENALTY (3)
“I remain of the view that the sentences should be made more severe by the imposition of the death penalty in deserving cases”.
I have in the past weeks discussed the rising prevalence of drug addiction among the nation’s youth. Last week I highlighted some measures which must be adopted by government to curtail the growing trade in narcotics. One factor which I am convinced will help will be an amendment to the current laws with a view to the imposition of stiffer penalties for drug trafficking and use.
Without a doubt, the terms of imprisonment stipulated by law appear not to have served as sufficient deterrent to those who have decided to make a career of drug trafficking. However there are some who have taken the view that the problem may actually lie in the reluctance of some judges to impose the maximum sentence prescribed by law for drug trafficking. At the moment, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act prescribes a sentence of life imprisonment for the exportation and importation of narcotics while it prescribes a minimum sentence of 15 years and maximum of 25 years for possession or use of narcotics. However In December 2016, a curious scenario occurred in court when three Bolivians were sentenced to six years’ imprisonment at the Federal High Court in Lagos for dealing in illicit drugs. The convicts, Reuben Jorge, Yhugo Moreno and Yerko Dorado openly celebrated their conviction in court, a situation that raised lots of questions. To curb what many have described as the wrong exercise of discretion in the imposition of sentences, a bill to amend the law was introduced at the Senate. The bill seeks to introduce a clause which reads as follows:
“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.”
While this is a commendable move, I remain of the view that the sentences should be made more severe by the imposition of the death penalty in deserving cases. While I concede that the propriety of the death penalty continues to attract debate in some given circumstances, I know as a fact that even its strongest opponents cannot deny the fact that the death penalty in some cases represents society’s strongest indignation at and condemnation of the crime it is meant to punish. This is why some countries such as Saudi Arabia still adopt it for drug smuggling and why the then military regime of General Muhammadu Buhari introduced it.
PENALTIES FOR DRUG TRADE AND USE IN SOME OTHER COUNTRIES
In Malaysia, those who sell drugs can be punished with death. Just for having drugs in his possession, a person can be fined, jailed, or deported. Driving drunk is also punished harshly in Malaysia.
In China, a person caught with drugs, could be forced to attend drug rehabilitation program in a facility run by the government. Execution is also the penalty for some drug crimes.
In Vietnam, drug crimes are taken very seriously. A person arrested with more than 1.3 pounds of heroin, will be executed.
Iran is not known to be tolerant of criminal offenses in general, and drug offenses are no different. The use of opium is a particular problem in Iran, in part because it is produced in neighboring Afghanistan. If caught with drugs in Iran, the best case scenario is a large fine and the worst-case scenario is the death penalty.
In Thailand, those trafficking narcotics may be put to death. Many Nigerians have suffered this fate.
Dubai is known to be very intolerant of drug abuse. Many prescription drugs that are legal in other parts of the world can get attract terms of imprisonment in Dubai. It is typical for drug offenders to be sentenced to four years in prison and then be deported. Failing a drug test can be grounds for incarceration.
The sale of drugs in Saudi Arabia almost always results in the death penalty. Saudi Arabia and judicial authorities are not inclined to make exceptions. Alcohol use is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and possession or use of alcohol or drugs can be punished by public flogging, fines, lengthy imprisonment, or death.
Singaporean police will assume that a person caught with even relatively small amount of drugs is trafficking in it. It attracts a death sentence.
Indonesian drug laws are harsh. If caught with marijuana, a person can get up to twenty years in jail. Other drugs carry jail terms of up to twelve years, and the sale of drugs is punishable by death.
In the Philippines, drug traffickers are sentenced to death. A person may be presumed to be a drug trafficker if he has more than a third of an ounce of drugs in his possession.
Penalties for drug possession in Turkey include large fines and long prison sentences. Penalties for selling drugs can be even stricter.
As in other South American countries, possession of drugs in Costa Rica attracts a lengthy jail term.
If caught with drugs in Columbia, a person will spend a long time in a very unpleasant prison. Police make several arrests a day at airports in Columbia, catching many foreign nationals.
I do not believe that any punishment should be considered too harsh given our present realities. As the founder of a University I am a firsthand witness to the danger posed by drug addiction to young Nigerians. It is saddening to see many of them with bright futures waste away owing to drug addiction. If not addressed immediately, generations of Nigerians may be lost to the problem. As i stated last week, Nigeria has gradually evolved from being just a route in the global trafficking of narcotics to a country of consumption. Urgent action is required.
AARE AFE BABALOLA SAN, CON, LL.D, D.Litt