Vigilantism Bill lenient, ‘romantic’— Yoni Kulendi

A private legal practitioner, Yoni Kulendi has proposed a 50-year jail term for culprits of vigilantism, but the suggested 25-year maximum jail term in the proposed bill is too lenient and ‘romantic’.

“There can be no human rights, no liberties and no constitution if the country catches fire and we are in a state of civil violence and crisis,” he warned.  

Mr Kulendi made the proposal in response to those criticising the bill on grounds of human rights, to a comment by a colleague lawyer, Martin Kpebu on the Vigilantism bill currently before Parliament. 

Mr Kpebu had indicated that provisions in the new bill which punished a person for failing to notify the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice after disbanding militias loyal to him was “draconian” saying, “It’s good to notify the minister but failure to notify the minister should not attract five years.”

But Mr Kulendi disagrees and spoke from an informed position when he noted that the punishment imposed on vigilantes should not be viewed from a human rights point of view, rather from the danger the menace portended for the State.

“We see a clear present and imminent danger in those young men who are organising around vigilante groups. Vigilantism warrants a 50-year maximum sentence. The sentence must speak to abhorrence and disapproval of the country as a whole.

“The bill is absolutely necessary given criminal law is meant to deal with mischief, to deal with an omission, to deal with danger and to deal with gaps in the law. Is there mischief confronting our national stability and the peace of our nation?

“There is imminent mischief, there is an imminent danger in this vigilante groups,” he asserted and highlighting on the violent agitations currently pervading across Africa and recent civil unrest in parts of the country by political activists, he pointed out that “the phenomenon is a growing danger, which has the potential to erode the country’s democratic gains if not nipped in the bud.

“If democracy fails, can anyone imagine where we are all headed? The human rights sentiments, we are all in it together but if the state fails where will we all be? These vigilantes must be a blackout,” Mr Kulendi blurted out.

The January 2019 by-election in Ayawaso West Wuogon which was marred by violence set in motion series of executive actions which were meant to put to rest, political violence.


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