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Senate Approves Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking

In a significant shift in Nigeria’s legal stance on drug-related offenses, the Senate on Thursday approved the implementation of the death penalty for individuals found guilty of drug trafficking. This drastic amendment escalates the existing punishment from life imprisonment to capital punishment.

The legislative decision came as the Senate deliberated over the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024. Spearheaded by Senator Mohammed Monguno, the Chairman of the Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters Committee, the bill received the green light during its third reading at a plenary session.

Originally, the NDLEA Act under Section 11 categorically punished the unauthorized import, manufacture, production, processing, planting, or cultivation of narcotics such as cocaine, LSD, and heroin with a life sentence. However, the newly approved amendment introduces the death penalty as a harsher deterrent, marking a substantial escalation in the war against drugs.

The bill seeks not only to redefine punitive measures but also aims to enhance the operational capabilities of the NDLEA. Key improvements include updating the list of controlled substances deemed dangerous and empowering the establishment of specialized laboratories to bolster the agency’s enforcement and investigative functions.

During the session, Senator Ali Ndume advocated for the amendment from life imprisonment to death, arguing that the severity of the drug trafficking crisis necessitates stricter penalties. The proposal received broad support among the senators, reflecting a consensus on the need for more stringent laws to combat the burgeoning drug trade within the country.

The approval of the death penalty by the Senate has ignited a mixed reaction from various sectors, sparking discussions on human rights and the effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent to crime. Critics argue that such severe measures could lead to judicial errors and misuse, while proponents believe it will significantly curb the drug menace plaguing the nation.

This legislative change represents one of the most stringent measures in Nigeria’s legal framework against drug trafficking, as the country intensifies its efforts to combat narcotics-related activities.

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