Even before the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government came to power, many people have been expressing their grievances and displeasure over mismanagement and siphoning of public funds. They suggested different punishments, such as; capital punishment, life imprisonment, amputation of hands of would-be culprit and so on. But with the mind boggling revelations, arrest and prosecution of some corrupt leaders by the present administration, JOEL OLUWAGBEMIRO went on the streets of Lagos to seek people’s opinions on what should be done to curb it in the future. His report;
“I believe there are laid down rules and regulations concerning this in Nigeria; crime and punishment, so I don’t think it should be something people should be going about debating what should be done, there are needful things to be done. Let them follow the law since the law made provisions for the corrupt people and the appropriate punishments for their offences. Although, the process has been manipulated over time, but I believe that if they really want to punish offenders, they will strengthen their members and follow the due process. I don’t believe in jungle justice, I’m more of democratic. Besides, we just have to be patient and everything will be fine, the problem is not knowing what to do, it is the manipulation of the system process” – Mr. Wale Samuel, Business man.
“Has there been a truthful judgment on corrupt people in this country? There have never been, going back to the case of Tafa Balogun and co., what justice was done on their case? Are they not free men on the streets today? So, there can never be any truthful judgment, the people that the law is made for are the masses, the common people. The laws are applied in Nigeria when a poor man steals minor things and people will shout, ‘kill him’, and ‘hang him’. So, there can never be truthful prosecution of the big fish, the rich man. It is only the poor that the law is made for as far as I’m concerned. A poor is punished over minor offences but a rich man will steal as much as $94 million and will use lawyers to defend himself and at the end, nothing will happen and he will go scot free.” – Mr. Godwin Akpan, teacher.
“They should be prosecuted. They should be taken to the court and if they are found guilty, they should be jailed. This will definitely serve as deterrent to others. Many people are suffering and it is not that we don’t have the resources, we have it but some people are there squandering our money. It is not that we don’t have enough resources that can go round, but because of nefarious activities of some few powerful people in the society, many are today suffering. So, if they are found guilty, they should be jailed and it will serve as deterrent to others”. – Mr. Kunle Ajayi, Civil Servant.
“If we consider the effect of corruption on the generality of our people knowing fully well that many have died as a result of this evil act, one will want to consider the death penalty but then one must as well think outside the box that if one is to start counting sinners, one will discover that rarely will one see anyone that is righteous. In line with the principles of God, I think there should be room for repentance and change of heart; as a result of that, I think if they are found guilty their properties should be confiscated and they should be jailed. In the process of their imprisonment, there can still be a kind of reformation of life and they can still be useful to the society in the future. Because it is only those who are caught that are caught. Many are still there perpetrating this act on a daily basis and they are not caught to face any punishment”. – Mr. Peter Morakinyo, Clergy man and Publisher.
“Actually, if you say capital punishment, I think it will be too harsh but in another way round, all the money and properties acquired through this act can be confiscated and for a lesson, they should be imprisoned at least minimum of five years imprisonment”. – Mr. Jamiu Alaka, Office Supervisor.
“It should be according to what the law says. As long as the federal government is not flaunting or violating its own laws, all well and good. Because if we prosecute them and found them guilty, the law should take its course, we can’t go outside the provisions of the law. If there is death sentence in Nigeria law, so be it, but if there is nothing like that in the constitution, there is no way, they will be sentenced to death and moreover, I don’t support death sentence, that will be too extreme”. – Mr. Uba Onuha, Businessman.
“Everything must be done within the law; they can’t operate outside the law. Government can only prosecute them according to the provisions of the law and the right place for that is the court of law. They can’t start to promulgate another law all because of corruption, all they need to do is to block the loopholes and there should be sensitization, orientation and every other thing that can bring about its full eradication or curb it. If the solution is the inclusion of it in the curriculum of schools, they should do it in other to start enlightening them about the effect of corruption to the economy at large”. – Mr. Afeez Folorunsho, Civil Servant.
“The issue of corruption is a big problem in our country. The corrupt people that we are talking about today started from somewhere. They have been practising it right for some time and they have mastered the process. Even if they are paid N70 million per week, they will still be corrupt because it is already in their blood. The only solution I can suggest is that government should prosecute the culprits and try to provide enough jobs because of idleness which can make some go into crime. The offenders should be punished and their properties confiscated. There is no country in the world that there is no corruption; when you talk about Britain, South Africa, USA and so on, there is none even in Jamaica, there is corruption. There are lots of graduates in this country that are jobless and when you see their certificate, you will respect them. There is hunger in the land and there is no job, government needs to do a lot regarding this”. – Mr. Olumide Oke, Footballer.
“The National Assembly can decide as far as I’m concerned. I can’t say it should be death penalty or life imprisonment. I strongly believe it is the job of the National Assembly and we should let the law take its course”. – Mr. Odukoya Adeniyi, Civil Servant.
“I will say the penalty for it should be long term of imprisonment depending on the offence. I will suggest about minimum of eight years imprisonment but I wouldn’t support capital punishment because it will amount to using a sledge hammer to kill a fly”. – Mr. Kevwe Odima, Legal Practitioner.
“If it was like the law did not protect corruption as some would have being dancing to the music of their offences before now. There is Immunity Clause now which does not allow for easy and effective prosecution. That is what gives them room to embezzle and siphon public money and property. The penalty I will suggest is that government should be vigilant and monitor how their officials generate their incomes. And in carrying out projects, there should be proper monitoring to make sure that the projects are well carried out as planned and no manipulation in the process. There are a lots of people who have through projects enriched themselves at the expense of the country, just because government can’t be everywhere at a time. There are laid down process of accessing projects before accepting its completion proposal in an assumption. This will definitely reduce the embezzlement to a barest minimum. The EFCC should be used to its full capacity to deal with corrupt people and their properties should be seized to serve as a lesson to others. Again, they should be fair in doing this and not be biased. When others know the penalty is grievious, they will fear and desist from such acts”. – Mr. Oluwamagbe Onabami, Civil Servant.
“If we should define what corruption is, we will see that many Nigerians are corrupt. Corruption is from the top and its spreading. Life imprisonment will be okay because one cannot say they should start to kill because in Nigeria, we have shed blood of the innocent so much. During their imprisonment, they should be taken outside the country to go and serve. Look at China ect, most of the people working with them are prisoners, we make use of our prisoners and if we cannot make use of them, we exchange them for service with other neighbouring countries. So if we jailed all these big men, take them to the neighbouring countries and let them go and serve there, I believe many other ones will take precaution. Life imprisonment will be very okay and apart from that, all the stolen funds should be recovered and their property should be confiscated. They should also be exposed to the members of the public. The only problem is that our judiciary system is not helping matters, especially regarding siphoning of public funds. They are rather making things to be difficult and encouraging the thieves to continue perpetrating their act of corruption in their way of protecting them to boycott and get out of their trials. I believe the judiciary can be amended and lawyers made to know that this is our country and things need to be done in the way it should”. – Mr. Nnaji Ajerho, Contractor.
“For corruption to stop in Nigeria, though people may say death penalty is too harsh, I think that is the best option to curb corruption. Because if people are embezzling money and you are charging them to court, definitely it will take a long process to get justice. We all know our judicial system in Nigeria, they will eventually manipulate things and get them out of their trials at the end of the day. If death penalty is applied, I think it will make people to desist from such act. In Saudi Arabia, if you steal, your head will be chopped off. If it is cocaine that you carried, your hands will be chopped off. If we apply death penalty, I think the act of stealing public funds and property will be stopped or drastically reduced to the barest minimum when people know that they are going to die when they commit such offence, they will definitely desist. It will definitely stop it, a situation in which somebody stealing one hundred naira is killed and someone stealing billions of naira move about freely. If we rely on judiciary process, it can’t work, if you have your money, you can buy your way out”. – Mr. Bakare Gbenga, Marketing researcher.
“There are laid down rules in the constitution that specified penalties for corrupt people. If anyone goes against the constitution, the penalties are there. The problem Nigeria has is not the constitution but the federal government to strengthen its institutions. All the institutions should be strengthened so that they will know their functions and there can be clear separation of power. Nothing we are saying today that is not in the constitution, if anybody steals, the penalty is in the constitution. If anyone is found guilty of corruption and they have been proved beyond reasonable doubt to be guilty, the person should be penalised based on the specification of the constitution. The constitution should be followed to the latter, so far the constitution is in order and if there is a need for amendment of the constitution, that is why we have the national assembly there and that is their job”. – Mr. Bernard Anihoro, Businessman.
“Once anyone is found guilty, they should collect all the money he stole and seize his property and imprison him for like 25 years depending on the weight of the offence. And that is it, there is nothing like death penalty”. – Mr Adedeji Yusuf, civil servant.
“Death penalties is too harsh because I don’t know where I may find myselftomorrow. Besides, people will perceive and see the government as a wicked government killing people. So, I’m not in support of death penalty. The government must apply wisdom, any action without wisdom will end in futility. The best thing is for them to serve their punishment according to the weight of their offence”. – Mr. Joshua Peter, Dry cleaner.
“There should be strong punishment for them because they are killing people indirectly. I can’t imagine somebody stealing up to a million dollars, is he crazy? I don’t know what they want to do with that kind of money, even for me now, if you give me $1 million, what do I need again in life? They must be crazy. If they can’t be killed, send them to prison and as well to psychiatric hospital for mental check-up because I think they are not normal. A normal person can’t do that. They think for themselves and themselves alone, when they were in school, schools were not like this. There are many of them that enjoyed free education, eating three square meals. How much they were paying in school then, nothing, they are now stealing money meant for this generation and beyond, they are mad”. Mr. Shoga Olufawo – Poultry farmer.
“My own view is that whatever they can do to the small thieves on the streets, the same justice should apply to the big thieves, our politicians that are embezzling our money. If it is death sentence, so be it. If it is life imprisonment, so be it. Whatever justice they can do to the small thieves, the same should be applied to them too and they shouldn’t consider the fact that they are prominent”. – Mr. Yemi Adegbite,Poultry farmer.