Lawmaker seeks stiffer penalty for drug offences
The Bill seeking to amend the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act CAP N30, sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa came up for second reading in the senate yesterday.
The lawmaker representing Lagos East on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the Act seeks to curb the excesses of judges who pass light, varied and discretionary sentences to convicts in clear disregard of the provisions of the NDLEA Act, which stipulates a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, or minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for convicts.
While reading his lead debate, Ashafa pointed out that the stiff punishment originally prescribed by the Act was to deter people from engaging in drug related activities, but lamented 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.
According to him, “This unfortunate development has not only affected but also demean the image of our nation in 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 said 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.”