By HENRY OKONKWO
The end came for Chijioke Stephen Obioha, a 38-year-old Nigerian, who went to Singapore for football trial in 2005, but got arrested for drug related offenses. He, alongside a 31-year-old Malaysian, Devendran Supramaniam was executed yesterday, after being convicted of drug trafficking.
After several years of appeals for clemency from families and human rights organisations which fell on deaf ears, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of the Singaporean government said both men were hanged at a prison complex.
The agency said in a statement on 18 November that Obioha, “had been accorded full due process under the law”. Two petitions to the President for clemency filed by him and the High Commission of Nigeria were turned down.
According to the CNB, when Obioha was arrested in April 2007, 14 blocks of vegetable matter were found in the bag he had with him. The anti-narcotic officers were said to have escorted him to his rented flat, where another 14 blocks were reportedly found in various bags.
Obioha was convicted of trafficking 2,604.56g of cannabis and sentenced to die by hanging according to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) of Singapore.
The Amnesty International had called on Singapore to immediately halt the execution. “We are dismayed that clemency has not been granted in his case, but remain hopeful that they won’t carry out this cruel and irreversible punishment against a person sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for a crime that should not even be punished by death,” Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South-East Asia and the Pacific, had said.
“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.
In the same vein, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, had described the death sentence as heart-breaking, appealing to Nigerians to desist from criminal activities like drug peddling.
Dabiri-Erewa said since Singapore determined to enforce its laws as a deterrent to drug trafficking, which has reduced as a result of its stringent capital punishment, nothing much can be done
“While we regret the death of the Nigerian, we once again appeal to Nigerians to avoid crimes like drug trafficking with most countries especially in Asia declaring zero tolerance for drug trafficking”, Dabiri-Erewa stated.