The Senate approved the imposition of the death penalty for individuals found guilty of drug trafficking within the country. The move, a significant departure from the existing maximum sentence of life imprisonment under the NDLEA Act, marks a substantial shift in the country’s legal approach to drug-related offenses.

The Senate’s decision stemmed from a detailed review of the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Drugs and Narcotics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024. Senator Mohammed Monguno (APC-Borno North), Chair of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters, presented the pivotal report during the plenary session.

The bill, now passed after its third reading, focuses on several key aspects: updating the dangerous drugs list, enhancing NDLEA operations, revising penalties, and enabling the establishment of laboratories for drug testing and analysis.

One of the most notable amendments involves Section 11 of the current act, which previously dictated life imprisonment for offenses related to drugs like cocaine, LSD, heroin, and similar substances. The amendment replaces this with a much harsher punishment—death.

The decision to include the death penalty was not initially recommended in the report. However, Senator Ali Ndume’s motion during consideration led to the upgrade from life imprisonment to the death penalty for drug trafficking offenses.

During the clause-by-clause examination of the Bill, Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, presiding over the session, called for a voice vote on the amendment regarding the death penalty. The majority voted in favor (“ayes”), resulting in its passage.

Although objections were raised, notably by Senator Adams Oshiomhole, who argued against the hastiness in deciding matters of life and death, Barau maintained that the opportunity for a division was missed following his initial ruling.

The bill’s final reading and approval signify a significant legislative step in addressing drug trafficking and related crimes within the country, signaling a stricter stance on such offenses moving forward.

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