Shouldn’t the Death Penalty Apply To Corrupt Public Officials?, By Femi Akinfolarin
Let’s create a special court to try corruption cases with concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal High Court. All cases must be tried and concluded within a year, including their appeals. Then let us review the punishment for people convicted of corruption. I would propose that the punishment be based on the value of the stolen monies…
The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, UAE which was completed in 2010 after six years of construction. The building is 829.8 m tall (the length of eight football fields placed in a long line) and cost $1.5 billion (over N500 billion) to build. Dubai built the Burj Khalifa as part of its ambitious plans to diversify its economy away from its oil dependency into tourism. The building is home to 1,044 luxury apartments and 49 floors of offices. About 12,000 people live and work in the tower, which is part of a 500-acre development. It’s one of the favourite tourist attractions in the world, and it costs over $200 dollars to make a trip to the top of its observation deck.
On the other side of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is presently building what will, upon completion, be the tallest building in the world (taking the crown from the Burj Khalifa), the $1.23 billion ( over N400 billion) Kingdom Tower. The development of the building is being driven by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who is considered the wealthiest man in the Middle East, as the anchor point for an entire new city being constructed near the port city of Jeddah. These two building that would further transform the economic life of their cities/countries are being built for just over $1 billion each.
Meanwhile in Nigeria, a certain Sokoto prince called Sambo Dasuki and a coterie of political bandits in the former ruling party (PDP) stand accused of receiving $2.1 billion (over N700 billion) for the purchase of military weapons from the Central Bank of Nigeria over a nine-month period in 2014 and simply diverting the monies to private use. This inherently is the difference between Nigeria and a country/state like Dubai. With a population of 2.1 million, Dubai produces about 70,000 barrels of oil a day, while Nigeria with a population of 170 million produces about 1.9 million barrels a day. Dubai is a city with an absolute monarch and no real democracy, Nigeria is a democracy that keeps electing incompetent kleptomaniacs when it’s not being raped by military dictators. 15 to 20 years ago, Dubai’s leader Sheikh Maktoum identified four factors to build its economy on – trade, real estate and construction, financial services, and tourism. And he then spent the next 20 years providing the structure for this; building two world standard sea ports to make Dubai the transshipment port of choice for goods from and to Asia; building two international class airports to make Dubai the aviation hub for the Middle East, building a world class airline to service those airports and then building a tourism industry in the middle of the desert by constructing bigger and bigger tourism focused marvels. Conversely, in Nigeria, government after government came and introduced different policies, then gave up implementing them and focused on stealing monies meant for development. This is the trend that has now been continued to a ludicrous level by Mr. Dasuki and his fellow brigands. He and a coterie of political jobbers stole money meant for military operations against Boko Haram, directly leading to the death of soldiers and innocent civilians across the North-Eastern states.
The stolen funds would also have covered most of the cost of the Lagos Metro Line, projected at $2.4 billion. All the above projects would have dramatically improved the quality of life in Nigeria. Instead the money ended up in the pockets of already rich politicians.
For a second, let’s consider what the $2.1 billion (over N700 billion) would have done if properly utilised. The Dangote Foundation recently started work on a 1000 capacity hospital in Kano at a cost of $12.3 million. Using this as a bench mark, $2.1 billion would have built 170 hospitals with 1000 beds across Nigeria (that’s 17,000 hospital beds) which would have provided healthcare to more than eight million Nigerians per year, assuming they each stay in the hospital for just a week. That’s eight million lives saved or impacted out of a population of 170 million. The money would also have paid for the construction of the long proposed Fourth Mainland bridge in Lagos which would be eighth kilometres long, and has a projected cost of $1.6 billion. The stolen funds would also have covered most of the cost of the Lagos Metro Line, projected at $2.4 billion. All the above projects would have dramatically improved the quality of life in Nigeria. Instead the money ended up in the pockets of already rich politicians.
This is the amount of money simply shared by a miserable, privileged collection of thieves and high office brigands, made possible because their principal (our peace loving former president) allowed it to happen.
Hence, once and for all let us deal with the issue of corruption in Nigeria by doing the following: Let’s create a special court to try corruption cases with concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal High Court. All cases must be tried and concluded within a year, including their appeals. Then let us review the punishment for people convicted of corruption. I would propose that the punishment be based on the value of the stolen monies in the following manner: If you steal between N10 million and N500 million, you get 20 years imprisonment without the option of paying a fine; between N500 million and N1 billlion – 30 years imprisonment without the option of paying a fine; between N1 billion and N10 billion – life imprisonment, and above N10 billion, you would be executed by firing squad at what is left of the Bar Beach in Victoria Island.
Femi Akinfolarin, a lawyer, writes from Lagos.