Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramaTochi Deserved to Live but Singapore Murdered Him
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Tochi Deserved to Live but Singapore Murdered Him Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Wilfred Mamah, United Kingdom Feb 6, 2007
Human Rights   Opinions
 1 2 3 4   Next page »


By: Willy Mamah* & Frances Nworka*

This reflection is inspired by the article, “Did Tochi Deserve to Die?” authored by Leonard Dibia, Lloyd Okereafor and Chinelo Chinweze, of an NGO named Access to Justice, Lagos and published in the THISDAY Law column, of last week. The article, in review, squandered a golden opportunity to attack, frontally, the clear absence of transparency in Singapore’s archaic death penalty jurisprudence and merely succeeded in presenting a half-hearted analysis of the abolitionists’ case, whilst betraying a collective vision for the abrogation of this inhuman and despicable punishment, for all crimes, not only in Nigeria, but globally.

Our aim in this piece is, first and foremost, to give a clear and unequivocal response to the question posed by Dibia, et al, by stating that Tochi Amara Iwuchukwu, the Nigerian “child”, that was executed amidst clamour for clemency, deserved to live, but Singapore chose to murder him, in furtherance of a discredited deterrence philosophy, that often holds sway in a police society like Singapore. We will also seek to use the peg offered by Dibia et al, to expose the pitfalls and confusion in the death penalty “retentionists’” camp. We will argue that death penalty retention or abolition clearly demarcates a closed society from an open one. The recent executions in Singapore and Iraq provide case studies of how not to punish in the 21st century and beyond.

Deconstructing Dibia, et al:
First let us briefly deconstruct the opinions of Dibia’s et al, to enable us appreciate the dilemma and inelegance of the reductionists’ philosophy. Dibia and co made the following observations, which we find contradicting, self cancelling and unacceptable.
They wrote:

“…the argument for proscribing death penalty in its totality and in all circumstances is not acceptable, especially in cases of wilful and inexcusable homicide. It must be understood that the collective consensus by which human society (of all races and tribes) prescribed extreme penalties for certain degrees of offences was more informed by notion of justice and respect for human life” (Emphasis supplied)

Which consensus are they referring to and how does this assertion support the very first sentence in their article, which called to mind the living statement of the president of Turkmenistan, on the unassailable rational for abolishing the death penalty? Dibia and co went further to demonstrate the confusion that “retentionists” often experience: they conceded that “the justice system, including appeals in many countries, are extremely flawed, leaves room for permanent miscarriage of justice, and, thus, raises concern for the possible innocence of convicts”. (Emphasis, supplied) So, the question is, if death penalty should be retained for certain offences, like wilful and inexcusable homicide, what waterproof legal measures could be in place to ensure that those found guilty are not victims of an “extremely flawed” justice system? Is it not said that it is better for 99 guilty persons to escape conviction, than for one innocent person to suffer an unjust and irreversible death? Is it not safer to argue for the blanket abolition of death penalty for all offences and in all circumstances, considering that there are several other alternatives, like the imposition of life sentence?

We equally find unacceptable Dibia et al’s equivocation about deterrence and the vicious circle inhibition they try to forge and also their attempt to poke fun on Nigeria’s moratorium strategy and the abolition effort, which exposed their real intent: to hide under the cloak of the abolitionist crusade and wreak havoc on Nigeria’s struggle for open and accessible justice. The contextual meaning evident in their assertion that many think that the moratorium on execution in Nigeria is politically motivated is obvious: the clear intention is to lampoon the moratorium efforts, which is an outcome of a seasoned study of the death penalty application in Nigeria, by the Nigerian Death Penalty Study Group. The Death Penalty Study Group in Nigeria carried an in-depth study involving all stakeholders: debates were conducted among politicians, students, professionals and so on in Nigeria, before the Group came up with the recommendation to freeze the application of death penalty in Nigeria. It would have been fairer, if Dibia and colleagues had presented their statistics for stating that many feel that the Moratorium is “politically motivated.” The lesson that we take from the article under review is that it is impossible to stand on the fence on an issue of fundamental importance like the death penalty. It is either one supports it or opposes it. There is no middle course, please.

Re-stating the Abolitionist Stand:
So much has been written about this, and we will not spend so much time on it. But let it be noted that although it is often argued that public international law does not prohibit death penalty, there are unquestionable evidence to demonstrate that international law is rapidly moving away from regime of death penalty. The climax of this movement is the coming into force of the International Criminal Court Treaty. Article 5 of the ICC Treaty provides for Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court as the crime of Genocide; Crimes against humanity; War crimes and the Crime of aggression. These are terrible crimes, but the court does not have power to apply the death sentence in all of them.

 1 2 3 4   Next page »   


You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile
Wilfred Mamah

This user has not written anything in his panorama profile yet.

Chucks Evuka | Feb 27th, 2007
Death panality is total misreguard to humanity,why must evil be paid for evil,giving warnings is accepted but deathpanalty no.it is time to change for good and stop the olden days method of handling issues. thans chuks

You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.