NWABUEZE OKONKWO, Onitsha -
Friday, April 30, 2010
Eighteen Nigerians who were condemned to death by the Indonesian judiciary in 2008 for their alleged various criminal offences, including drug peddling and other related offences, may be executed in Indonesia between June and August, this year.
The convicts had been slated for execution in Indonesia on September 28, 2008, shortly after the Ramadan feast of Indonesians, but Nigeria’s high powered delegation, comprising the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora and some Senators visited Indonesia and opened discussions between the Nigerian and Indonesian governments on the fate of the convicts.
The Indonesian government had condemned a total of 21 Nigerians to death, sentenced four to life imprisonment and eight others to various jail terms, ranging from 11 to 18 years.
Out of the 21 condemned Nigerians, two of them, Samuel Iwuchukwu Okoye, and Hassan Anthony Nwaolisa, had already been executed on June 28, 2008, while another, Augustine Celo Ogbonna, died in prison custody in September, 2008.
In a strongly worded petition to Hon. Abike Dabiri-Ewa, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, dated April 22, 2010, a copy of which was made available to Daily Sun yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra State, an Onitsha-based human rights lawyer, Barrister Melly Chukwuemeka Eze, is appealing to the National Assembly to take concrete steps with a view to getting reprieve for the condemned Nigerians.
Eze, in the petition entitled: “Shocking revelation from Indonesian Prisons: Execution of 18 Nigerians scheduled for between June and August, 2010,” noted that most shockingly, he learnt from the prisoners that those on death row might be executed anytime between June and August this year if no further diplomatic efforts and pressure were mounted on Indonesian authorities.
According to Eze, “I have it on good and reliable authority that officials of Indonesian government who opened discussions with the Nigerian delegation are now expressing disappointment over an apparent display of unseriousness on the part of Nigerian government over the diplomatic move already initiated by Nigerian government officials”.
The human rights lawyer recalled that his earlier petition to the Presidency, National Assembly and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in October, 2008 in respect of the 18 Nigerians on death row and others serving various jail terms in Indonesia had attracted reactions from Senator Uche Chukwumerije, who moved a motion on the floor of the Senate to that effect.
He also recalled that his earlier petition had attracted the attention of the foreign affairs minister who sent a high powered delegation to Indonesia to mediate on behalf of the convicts and other prisoners, numbering 50, serving various jail terms in Indonesia, with the minister himself as part of the delegation.
He recalled that the Nigerian delegation had returned with a strong hope of change of heart by the Indonesian authorities, which prompted Dabiri-Ewa to grant a press interview where she assured Nigerians that the Nigerian government was committed to doing everything possible to address the plight of those Nigerians, adding that the Senate President also wrote him personally, promising that the issue would be addressed, just as Senator Chukwumerije personally wrote.
He expressed the fear that government might not have taken any further steps to get reprieve for these Nigerians, nearly two years after.
He gave the names of those on death row as Kingsley Okonkwo, Michael Titus Igwe (Real name-Izuchukwu F. Ezimoha), Uchenna Cajethan Onyenworo, Ekperedike S. Olekama, Adam Wilson (real name-Emmanuel Okari), Hillary K. Chimezie, Eugene Ape and Humphery Ejike.
Others on the death row are Okwudili Ayotaeze, Obinna Nwajiagu, Daniel Enemuo, Fredrick Lutter (Real name-Benjamin Obiora), Sylvester Nwaolisa, Gabriel Nnadi, Dennis Anumona and Ikenna Ezenwune, while Stephen Rashid, Joseph Ndaba, Ken Michael and Obinna George are currently serving life imprisonment.
He disclosed that most of the convicts, who are currently languishing in Nusakambagan Island prisons in Jarkata and other parts of Indonesia, were arrested shortly on arrival to the country and without them hearing Indonesian language, they were sentenced to death, without allowing them to take plea or have fair representation from legal practitioners.
Giving an instance of one of the convicts who was arrested with an Indonesian who had since been released, and another one who was arrested in a hotel where a bag of heroin was dumped by unknown persons, who was later arrested, the human rights lawyer saidthe worst part of the whole issue was that the Indonesian government said for their cases to be reviewed, each of the convicts must pay between $15,000 to $20,000 US Dollars.