A Nigerian, Adili Ejike, escaped death by a whisker following the decision of Singapore’s Supreme Court to void his earlier conviction for drug-related offences.
Ejike’s acquittal and freedom from jail marks the first time in the history of Singapore that a Nigerian convicted of possession of illicit drugs and sentenced to death would be set free, according to a statement by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in Abuja on Wednesday.
The statement read in part, “Mr Adili Chibuike Ejike earlier sentenced to death for importing nearly two-kilogramme of methamphetamine has been granted an acquittal by Singapore’s Supreme Court and released with no outstanding charges.
“The Nigeria High Commission in Singapore in a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said ‘a three-member panel that delivered the judgment was led by the Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon’.
According to the statement, the letter was signed by Head of Mission in Singapore, High Commissioner Akinremi Bolaji.
It also said, “Ejike’s freedom from death by hanging by the court made history as the first time such a decision was made in a case involving a Nigerian.
“Ejike was arrested in November 2011 and has since been behind bars till May 2019 when he was discharged and acquitted.”
The letter added, “The High Commission affirmed that the prosecution failed to establish that Ejike knew that the drug bundles in his suitcase were in his possession.
“In other words Ejike was not guilty of wilful blindness or deliberately shutting his eyes to the truth if his possession of the drugs.
“The acquittal of Ejike has been termed locally as a miracle of God and I am elated that his freedom from death happened under my watch here as the Head of Mission.”
The letter however said, both the prosecution and defence agreed that he was in possession of the drugs, but that was sufficient to convict him and affirm the death sentence earlier passed on him by both the lower and appellate courts.
Ejike was reported to have said his childhood friend in Nigeria gave him the bag that contained the drugs to be delivered to someone in Singapore.
The Nigerian mission said Ejike’s claim raised an important issue about how drug peddlers had been using unsuspecting people as conduits to transport their consignments at the risk of the lives of the possessors of such substances.
The mission said, “There is a need for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to join hands with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, especially the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Nigerian Immigration Service, to develop a framework to rehabilitate such Nigerians returning from abroad into the society.
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