Proposal in Nigeria’s Senate: Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking

Nigeria’s Senate has proposed a significant increase in penalties for drug trafficking, suggesting the death penalty as the new maximum sentence through a proposed amendment to the law. This amendment, which is yet to be enacted, replaces the previous harshest punishment of life imprisonment. Nigeria, home to over 200 million people and the most populous country in Africa has transitioned in recent years from being a mere transit point for illegal drugs to a nation involved in production, consumption, and distribution.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control notes widespread opioid abuse in Nigeria, particularly with drugs like tramadol and codeine-containing cough syrups, leading to a ban on codeine cough syrup production and importation in 2018. While cannabis is locally cultivated, other narcotics such as cocaine and methamphetamine are trafficked through the country alongside opioids, contributing to a growing addiction issue.

The Senate’s proposed legislation originated from a report presented by Senator Mohammed Monguno during Thursday’s plenary session, based on findings from Senate committees on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, and drugs and narcotics. Proponents argue that the threat of execution would serve as a stronger deterrent to drug traffickers compared to life imprisonment. However, opponents of the measure express concerns about the irreversible nature of the death penalty and the potential for wrongful convictions.

The bill, which was previously passed by the House of Representatives without the death penalty provision, will require coordination between five selected members of both the Senate and the House to reconcile the two versions before it can be sent to the president for approval.