A Nigerian man , Adili Chibuike Ejike , was on Monday cleared by Singapore ’s Court of Appeal of drug trafficking charges after he had spent two years on death row.
In a rare decision, Mr. Adili Chibuike Ejike, earlier sentenced to death for importing nearly 2-kilogramme of methamphetamine into Singapore, was granted an acquittal by Singapore’s Supreme Court and released with no outstanding charges.
The Nigeria High Commission in Singapore stated in a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Ejike’s acquittal made history as the first time such a decision was made in a case involving any Nigerian.
Ejike was arrested in November 2011 and was behind bars from then till May 2019 when he was discharged and acquitted.
In a letter signed by the Charge d’ Affaires of Nigeria in Singapore, Mr Akinremi Bolaji, the three-member panel that delivered the judgement freeing Ejike was led by the Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon.
“The High Commission affirmed that the prosecution had failed to establish that Ejike knew that the drug bundles in his suitcase were in his possession,” the letter read in part.
“In order words, Mr Ejike was not guilty of wilful blindness or deliberately shutting his eyes to the truth if his possession of the drugs.
“The acquittal of Mr 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 trial focused on his knowledge of the substance; while the defence claimed he had no knowledge of the substance, the prosecutor claimed he knew about it.
“However, both the prosecutor and the defence agreed that he was in possession of the drugs, which was sufficient to convict him and affirm the death sentence earlier passed on him by both the lower and appellate courts.”
According to Ejike, his childhood friend in Nigeria gave him the bag that contained the drugs to be delivered to an unspecified person in Singapore.
Bolaji said Ejike’s claim raised an important issue about how drug peddlers are using unsuspecting people as conduits to transport their consignments, at the risk of the lives of the possessors of such substances.
The Nigerian envoy, therefore, urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to join in the awareness campaign for Nigerians travelling abroad not to accept to travel with any bags or container that they have not personally packed by themselves for the journey.
The Immigration Services of Singapore would release Ejike to travel to Nigeria on Wednesday, May 29, on board of Ethiopian Airlines and should be arriving in Lagos to join his family in Anambra, afterwards.
Bolaji stressed that “there is the 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.
“Now, Mr. Ejike is a free person and will travel to Nigeria unaccompanied, hoping he has learnt his lessons and would be wise enough not to subject himself in future to such circumstance that has kept him behind the bars for nearly eight years – from November 13, 2011 to May 27, 2019.”
The mission said it celebrated the release of Ejike on the eve of the swearing-in of President Muhammadu Buhari for the second term.