Delta state government has said there is no rift between the executive and the legislature over the recent overriding of the veto exercised by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, following the passage of a Bill which prescribed the death penalty for persons convicted of kidnapping by the state House of Assembly.
The Delta state executive arm, has however explained that the decision of the House of Assembly was taken within legislative rights as an independent arm of government, and as such does not portend a strain in the relationship between the Governor and the Lawmakers.
While saying that the two arms of government have enjoyed warm and cordial relations, he pointed out that Governor Uduaghan only withheld assent to the bill as a result of his principled stance that a similar penalty for armed robbery in existing laws could not deter criminality.
A statement signed by Barr. Chike C. Ogeah, Delta State Commissioner for Information and made available to Blank NEWS Online reads:
“On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, the Delta State House of Assembly overrode the veto exercised by the Governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON, on the Bill passed by the House prescribing the death penalty for persons convicted of kidnapping.
“As an independent arm of government, the House was well within its rights in the exercise of its legislative functions in taking its decision. It must be pointed out here that the House’s decision does not in any way portend a strain in the relationship between the Governor and the Lawmakers. Far from it. Both arms have enjoyed and continue to enjoy warm and cordial relations.
“Rather, it is the outcome of the principled stance of Governor Uduaghan against the prescription of the death penalty for convicted kidnappers in the Bill. In his letter to the House explaining his decision to withhold assent to the bill, the Governor had noted that the death penalty for armed robbery in existing laws has not deterred criminally minded persons from engaging in the crime. Fixing the same death penalty for kidnapping in the Bill, he stated, is not likely to achieve that desired purpose.
“In addition, there is no incidenct of kidnapping that does not involve the charge of violent crime, including armed robbery and use of dangerous weapons in prosecuting suspects. In effect, existing statutes provide enough grounds for charges of armed robbery which attract the death penalty should the law enforcement agents so desire.
“Statistics have also shown that incidents of kidnapping are more pronounced in some neighbouring states. Even these pale into insignificance when compared with the spate of killings and sectarian strife in some parts of the country.
“There is the concern by Dr. Uduaghan that the Bill may operate in a void as the machinery for public executions is no longer primed for such exercises in the entire country. The facility and capacity for undertaking public executions are just not there again as no trained executioner is in service anywhere in the country. This situation largely explains the high number of inmates on death row in prisons across Nigeria with the inevitable trauma on them.
“This state of affairs had made it imperative to adopt a more pragmatic approach to tackling kidnapping even as the rest of the civilized world is rapidly have a rethink on the usefulness of capital punishment as a deterrent to violent crime. Given these circumstances, are we not having a situation where the Bill has become a “dead letter law”?
“Governor Uduaghan, as a true democrat, respects the decision taken by the Delta State House of Assembly which was done in exercise of its constitutional powers and will continue to collaborate with the members in curbing the scourge of kidnapping and other violent crimes.”
Recall that the legislature on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, overrode the veto wielded by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on a Delta State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Terrorism Bill, 2012, prescribing death penalty for kidnapping.
The Speaker, Mr. Victor Ochei had said “it is my view that death sentence punishment is not likely to serve as deterrent or antidote” and citing Section 100 sub-section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which empowered the House to override the governor by a two-third majority, 26 of the 29 members of the House reportedly voted to override the governor’s veto to make the bill become a law.