A Nigerian man, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, was arrested in Singapore, on April 2007 for possession of more than 2.6 kilogrammes of cannabis, which is more than the amount of 500 grammes that triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking under Singapore law.
He was s also found to possess keys to a room containing additional prohibited substances and this led the authorities to presume him guilty of possession and knowledge of the drugs.
On Wednesday, 16 November, Amnesty International called on the government of Singapore to stop the execution of the young man slated to hold on Friday November 18. His pleas for clemency not withstanding, the country is bent on serving Obioha corporal punishment tomorrow and has already informed his family of the execution date.
Speaking on the matter, 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 Chijioke 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.
“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.
“Most of the world has turned its back on this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It is about time that Singapore does the same, starting by restoring a moratorium on all executions as a first step towards abolition of this punishment.
“Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the method of execution or the crime for which it is imposed, and believes that there is no credible evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.”
In August 2010, Obioha’s appeal against his conviction and sentence was rejected, but maintaining his innocence of the crime, he initially refused to make use of his right to re-sentencing which amendments to Singapore’s mandatory’s death penalty laws made in 2013 allowed for.
Under Singaporean law, when there is a presumption of drug possession and trafficking, the burden of proof shifts from the prosecutor to the defendant.
Chijioke Stephen Obioha graduated in Industrial Chemistry from University of Benin in Nigeria. He moved to Singapore in 2005, seeking to join a football club.
His family members, who currently live in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, have been unable to travel to visit and had limited ability to assist him. Throughout the duration of the proceedings, they have received sporadic and often delayed updates, including when a legal representative was removed from the case.