The Presidency yesterday lamented the execution of a Nigerian footballer, Chijoke Obioha, in Singapore for drug trafficking.
The 35-year-old footballer was said to have gone to the Asian country for trials when he was caught trafficking in hard drugs on April 9, 2007.
Consequently, he was sentenced to death about four years ago and remained on the death row until he was executed yesterday.
Reacting to Obioha’s execution in a statement yesterday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described it as heartbreaking, given repeated calls for Nigerians to desist from criminal activities like drug peddling.
The statement signed by Dabiri-Erewa’s Special Assistant on Media, Abdul-Rahman Balogun, in Abuja said since Singapore is determined to enforce its laws as a deterrent to drug trafficking, which has reduced as a result of its stringent capital punishment, there was not much that could be done except to continue to appeal.
“While we regret the death sentence passed on 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.
She reiterated her appeal to Nigerians to avoid drug peddling in their host countries as laws of countries, whether acceptable or not, are difficult to influence.
The late Obioha was said to have been arrested with more than 2.6 kilogrammes of cannabis, surpassing the statutory amount of 500 grammes presumed as drug trafficking in Singapore.
The Amnesty International had called on Singapore to immediately halt yesterday’s planned execution of Obioha, but Obioha’s family was informed that his appeal for clemency had been rejected.
Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South-East Asia and the Pacific, said: “The Singapore government still has time to halt the execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha.
“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.
“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.
“This violates the right to fair trial by turning the 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 and Amnesty International opposes the use of the death penalty outright, regardless of the crime.”