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Catholic church opposes death penalty for kidnappers in Osun

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• Citizens support bill
• Retirees protest unpaid entitlements

The Osun State House of Assembly yesterday held a public hearing session on a bill for a law to prohibit kidnapping, banditry, ritual killings and other related offences, and recommended death penalty for kidnappers.

While many groups and individuals in the state applauded the bill, the Catholic organisation kicked against it.

The organisation, Justice Development and Peace Makers Centre (JDPMC) of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, advised the Assembly against approving death sentence for culprits, notwithstanding the profile of the offence.

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Spokesperson for JDPMC, Mr. Paul Kehinde, who spoke at the public hearing, said: “The Catholic Church does not support death penalty as punitive to crime. It’s only God that has the power to terminate human lives.”

Kehinde advocated for repeal of criminal laws in the state and country at large and that prisons should be overhauled in order for inmates to be rehabilitated so that once they leave the custodies, they would become reformed in the society.

The Speaker of House, Timothy Owoeye, said the bill would complement the efforts of the Amotekun Corps when inaugurated.

He said that it was imperative to have enabling laws to ensure quick and diligent prosecution of kidnapping offenders.

Owoeye said that ever since the issue of Amotekun Corps came to fore, there have been downward trends in the cases of kidnapping in Osun and other South-West states.

He held that the Seventh Assembly under his watch is reviewing the existing laws on kidnapping, which recommended 14 years would be reviewed to death penalty.

He expressed displeasure over the risen cases of kidnapping, saying: “Osun has witnessed about six cases in 2020 alone but we are eager to nip it in the bud.

Meanwhile, groups and individuals at the hearing have asked the lawmakers to go ahead and pass the bill.

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The state Co-ordinator of Hunter Group of Nigeria, Mr. Hammed Nureni, urged the Assembly to immediately pass the bill into law, saying that kidnappers deserve no mercy.

Also, the Commandant of Vigilante Group of Nigeria in Osun State, Mr. Bello Aderemi, backed the proposed bill, saying kidnappers exploited citizens’ resources and wasted many lives of their victims.

In another development, a group of pensioners in Osun State yesterday staged a protest over unpaid gratuities by the state government.

The senior citizens, who stormed streets of Ejigbo in the state chanting anti-government songs, urged government to pay their gratuities.

Spokesperson of the affected retirees, Mr. O. Omowumi, who spoke with The Guardian, said although the state government under the administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola approved some amount of money to offset some of the entitlements of pensioners under the contributory pension scheme, only 40 of those who retired in 2016 collected their gratuities.

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