The news of the successful arrest of kidnap kingpin, Evans Onwuamadik, in Magodo, on the 10th of June, 2017, has trailed several news outlets and social media in Nigeria for the past week. Evans had led his gang of kidnappers on several successful operations which had earned him millions of naira in cash and properties including several houses scattered all over the country. While also leaving behind the emotional torture and pain inflicted on his victims and their families.
More surprising, was the call from his wife for the release of her hubby and father of her children on compassionate grounds. No doubt, majority of Nigerians found everything wrong this plea and this caused a debate on twitter and other social media outlets on why such a person should enjoy the benefits of a second chance. Hence, our poll to ascertain public opinion on the issues,here are the lessons from our poll and twitter engagement.
1. The Criminal Code needs urgent reform –
While states such as Lagos, Edo and Delta have passed stricter laws such as the death penalty and life imprisonment on kidnapping, the Criminal Code Act still provides for a lesser penalty. Section 364 of the Act states a penalty of 10 years imprisonment for anyone who unlawfully imprisons another. This clearly shows that the Criminal Code Act is far behind on the current reality of crime in Nigeria and urgently needs to be adequately reformed, hopefully the 8th National Assembly takes a critical look at the Criminal Code Act to bring it in line with current realities.
2. Revisiting the Death Penalty –
While Nigerian laws still recognise the death
Penalty for offences such as murder, it is to be considered whether the death penalty should be introduced nationally to other grievous crimes such as corruption and kidnapping. Though executions have rarely happened in the past few years, introducing capital punishment for these crimes may help considerably stem down the high rise of these offences in the country.
3. Opinion could easily become an infringement on the rights of others –
While the constituion guarantees the rights of freedom of thought and expression, many Nigerians don’t understand that these rights are in no way absolute. Where the rights of one person stops,the rights of others begin. Though we have a legal right to ask a poll to ascertain public opinion on any subject, the responses we received from fellow twitter users were quite epic. For instance, a twitter user @noffced wrote that Legalnaija was a fraudulent blawg, a clear statement made without proof of any fraudulent act committed by Legalnaija but made to disparage the public identity of the blog. A statement which could be argued as defamatory. It should be noted that a defamatory matter according to section 373 of the Criminal Code is one likely to expose a person to hatred, ridicule or contempt. While it is okay to say whatever we want,its wrong to say things that are untrue and could cause damage to the reputation of others,this may find the maker of such statement liable for the act of defamation and also to damages.
4. Kidnapping is a national emergency and must be treated as such –
The public outcry from our poll is evident of the devastation the act of kidnapping has caused on the lives of many Nigerians. Victims have included wealthy persons, government officials and also students. This is an urgent call for the overview of the national security apparatus in safeguarding the lives of Nigerians as they go about their daily activities.
5. Nigerian Twitter takes no prisoners –
Nigerian twitter is very vocal and anyone who has been on its bad side would attest that tweeps can be merciless with their comments. From our poll, we got responses asking about our mental state, asking us to delete our account, accusing us of being bribed by the family of Evans, referring us to the police, unfollowing us and even lawyers denouncing our blog.
It’s however quite important to note that the poll was for ascertaining public opinion and in no way supports or condones kidnapping or any other crime whatsoever.