Concise News correspondents
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has described as “heartbreaking”, the execution of a Nigerian in Singapore for drug related offences.
Dabiri-Erewa said this in a statement she issued on Friday in Abuja through her Special Assistant on Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun.
She recalled that Singaporean authorities arrested the Nigerian, Chijoke Obioha, 35, with more than 2.6 kilogrammes of cannabis on April 9, 2007. This surpasses the statutory amount of 500 grams presumed as drug trafficking under Singaporean law.
Dabiri-Erewa said Nigerian government informed Obioha’s family that his appeal for clemency had been rejected Thursday.
She, however, described the sentence as disturbing despite repeated calls for Nigerians to desist from criminal activities such as drug peddling.
“While we regret the death sentence passed on the Nigerian, we will also like to, once again. appeal to Nigerians to avoid crimes like drug trafficking, especially in Asia which has declared zero tolerance for such offences.’’
She urged Nigerians to avoid drug peddling in their host countries as laws of countries, no matter its de-merits, will be difficult to influence.
A Singaporean anti-death penalty campaigner, Ravi Madasamy, who has also been assisting Obioha’s lawyer, Joseph Chen, on the case, took to his Facebook page this morning to announce the news.
“This morning, at 6am, the execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha took place. I am not even sure if his family from Nigeria were able to attend. Soon everybody will forget this together with Chijioke’s name. But for many of us who fight and campaign to eradicate this barbaric practice of death by hanging, and for those of us who challenge the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking in Singapore, our work will go on. And it must,” Ravi posted.
Amnesty international condemns execution
Amnesty International also called on Singapore to halt Friday’s execution of Obioha.
Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South-East Asia and the Pacific said AI is dismayed that Obioha’s case was not granted clemency.
“The death penalty is never the solution. It will not rid Singapore of drugs.
“By executing people for drug-related offences, which do not meet the threshold of most serious crimes, Singapore is violating international law.
“Under Singaporean law, when there is a presumption of drug possession and trafficking, the burden of proof shifts from the prosecutor to the defendant,” he said.
According to the Amnesty director, this violates the right to a fair trial by turning the concept of presumption of innocence on its head.
“Drug-related offences do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law.
“International law also prohibits the imposition of the death penalty as a mandatory punishment. Moreover, Amnesty International opposes the use of the death penalty outright, regardless of the crime,” he said.