drugRecently, the story broke out from Asia that two unfortunate Nigerians were about to be tied to the stakes and killed following their reported convictions for drugs related crimes, something inside of me reminded me of the story of a helpless child whose fish was stolen by a giant looking man and upon reporting to his small framed looking Dad nothing much was done by way of retrieving the stolen fish since obviously anything to the contrary would have been suicidal given that the little boy’s father is so frail and weak that the energetic man may crush him should he make any move to seek redress for his disaffected child.
Why do I use this allegory of a victimized child whose father couldn’t help because of his physical frame even when I am completely in tune with the Igbo proverb that says, “he who chases a small chicken will always fall while the chicken disappears?” Simply put, when I read the story of how Brazil and Netherlands battled through diplomatic channels to save the lives of their nationals but who were eventually killed by the Indonesian government for similar hard drugs related convictions, I reflected on the existential situation facing Nigeria our dear Motherland in which armed terrorists have in the last three years threatened to destroy our nation from the face of the earth.
Now here is the catch 50/50 situation- If Nigeria through her armed forces have yet to save the nation from the vicious attacks of die hard terrorists, how do we expect this same country to spare time and energy diplomatically to seek to overturn these range of harsh punishments meted out to these less fortunate Nigerians in far away Indonesia? I indeed wept for these unfortunate Nigerians who when they are caught for being in conflict with the laws of their host and usually hostile nations far away from the Black continent of Africa are usually maltreated by those nations’ judicial mechanisms and worse still the diplomatic offices of Nigeria in those countries are usually found wanting as they are often accused of doing little to offer consular legal assistance to these distressed Nigerians who most often are made to pass through the rigor of unfavorable trials conducted in some foreign languages without those judicial institutions allowing these Nigerians the universally protected right to fair hearing.
The second related national conversation is also around the controversy surrounding the failure of the Federal Government to extradite a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party allegedly wanted in the United States over reported hard drugs related offences for which some persons were convicted some time ago. Mr. Kashimu Buruji who is an associate of the current hierarchy of the ruling party has however denied this allegations and has indeed headed to court to stop any move by the Nigerian Government to deport him to the United States should there be any request for extradition from the States justice department in the United States of America. The erstwhile President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has made a heavy weight of criticizing the President (Dr) Goodluck Jonathan for allegedly dining with an alleged fugitive from the United States legal system just as he the former President is reportedly in deep division with his political party over the decision of the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party to make this same man allegedly wanted over drugs related offences in the United States as the leading figure in the South West which is home to the former President.
I am basically concerned about the far reaching damage that the involvement of most Nigerian youth on drug offences around the World has done to our country.
It is clear that more than two hundred Nigerian youths are languishing in different prisons all over the World even as many more are facing the imminent prospects of being killed by firing squads for these alleged drugs related offences. Most of these trials can not be said to have reached the threshold of global best practices.
Sadly, Nigeria has had a long history of controversy involving top government officials and some drugs kingpins. Many years after Nigeria set up the National drugs law enforcement agency [NDLEA] but yet Nigeria is still battling with what to do about stopping the large scale involvement of Nigerian youth in drugs related offences all over the World. Nigeria is said to be a transit route for drugs but Nigerians are reportedly not known as a notorious consumers of these hard drugs but the emergence of many armed terrorists in the North East of Nigeria has seriously questioned this conclusion that Nigeria is not the final destination of hard drugs or that Nigerians are not some of the highest consumers of hard drugs. The fact that series of genocidal killings of even women in labor have taken place masterminded by these armed Islamists shows that hard drugs are major issues stoking the fire of terrorism in Nigeria and the earlier Nigerians begin serious national conversations around the issues of hard drugs and what to do about stopping the tide the better. Before concluding let us once more recall the story of these two Nigerians now already executed in Indonesia over drugs related offences and what the other nations did to save their own citizens.
Media report has it that Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors from Indonesia and expressed fury after Jakarta defied their pleas and executed two of their citizens along with four other drug offenders.
The other convicts that faced a firing squad were from Vietnam, Malawi, Nigeria and Indonesia. The six were the first people executed under new President Joko Widodo.
Recalling that Indonesia has tough anti-drugs laws and Widodo, who took office in October, has disappointed rights activists by voicing support for capital punishment despite his image as a reformist the story writer also stated that the head of government of Indonesia has severally defended the executions, saying drugs ruin lives.
A spokesman for Brazilian President Dilma Roussef said she was “distressed and outraged” after Indonesia ignored her last-ditch pleas and put to death Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was convicted of smuggling cocaine into Indonesia in 2004.
“Using the death penalty, which is increasingly rejected by the international community, seriously affects relations between our countries,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The Brazilian ambassador to Jakarta was being recalled for consultations, the spokesman added.
Meanwhile Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said the Netherlands had also recalled its ambassador over the execution of Dutchman Ang Kiem Soei, and in a statement described all six deaths as “terribly sad”.
“My heart goes out to their families, for whom this marks a dramatic end to years of uncertainty,” Koenders said. “The Netherlands remains opposed to the death penalty.”
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte had been in contact with the Indonesian president about the matter, he said, and the government had done “all in its power” to try to halt the execution.
But the Indonesian government said they followed the rule of law. The President Mr Widodo defended the death penalty in a Facebook post.
“The war against the drug mafia should not be half-hearted measures, because drugs have really ruined the good life of the drug users and their families,” he said.
“There is no happiness in life to be gained from drug abuse. The country must be present and fight with drug syndicates head-on,” he added.
Media reported that all the prisoners, who had been sentenced to death between 2000 and 2011, were executed shortly after midnight, the attorney general’s office said.
The 53-year-old Brazilian, who was caught with drugs stashed in the frame of his paraglider at Jakarta airport, and the 62-year-old Dutchman were executed on Nusakambangan Island, home to a high-security prison, off the main island of Java.
A Nigerian, Daniel Enemuo; Namaona Denis, from Malawi; and an Indonesian woman, Rani Andriani, were executed at the same location.
The sixth convict, Vietnamese woman Tran Thi Bich Hanh, was executed in the Boyolali district in central Java.
They were all caught attempting to smuggle narcotics apart from the Dutchman, who was sentenced to death for operating a huge factory producing the drug ecstasy.
All had their appeals to the president for clemency rejected last month.
Jakarta had an unofficial moratorium on executions for several years from 2008 but resumed capital punishment again in 2013. There were no executions last year.
Widodo, known as Jokowi, has in the opinion of media analysts taken a particularly hard line towards people on death row for narcotics offences, insisting they will not receive a presidential pardon since Indonesia is facing an “emergency” over drug use.
Following the executions, the number of people on death row for drugs-related offences stood at 60, around half of whom are foreigners, said a spokesman for the national narcotics agency.
Widodo’s tough stance has sparked concern for other foreigners sentenced to death, particularly two Australians who were part of the “Bali Nine” group caught trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005.
One of the pair, Myuran Sukumaran, also had his clemency appeal rejected last month but authorities say he will be executed with fellow Australian Andrew Chan as they committed their crime together.
Chan is still awaiting the outcome of his clemency appeal.
Also on death row is British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford. She was sentenced to death in 2013 after being caught trying to smuggle cocaine into Bali.
Nigerian government must take closer look at what to do about this scandalous involvement of Nigerian youth in drugs offences. First and foremost the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs must as a constitutional obligation ensure that wherever and whenever any Nigerian is taken to court in foreign jurisdictions that those Nigerians are accorded fair hearing and must be represented by competent legal consultants. The Universal Declarations of human rights makes provision for fair hearing for all persons. Secondly the Federal and state ministries of information and communication must deploy resources to enlighten Nigerians on the futility and risks involved in getting involved in drugs related crimes. Back home the relevant agencies that are set up to battle drugs offences must change their strategies and seek for better ways of keeping the Nigerian youth away from hard drugs. The relevant legislations against drugs trafficking and consumption must be strengthened by the National Assembly and drug offences must not be glamourized the way we currently do because most times when persons are caught for these obviously serious crime the tendency is for most Nigerians to show some sympathy because of the harsh living conditions of most Nigerians as if to say going into drugs related crimes are tolerable means of escaping the chains of poverty afflicting nearly eighty percent of Nigerians. Let the national law against hard drugs be made very strong so convicted felons caught with drugs are made to forfeit all the claims and benefits accrued from drugs related crimes and spend quality time in prisons to undergo reforms and reorientations. The Nigerian government must show good example by distancing the office of the President or governor or indeed the political structures governing the Federal or state governments from any person remotely connected or even accused of drugs related offences until that person purged himself or herself of such allegations. The danger in the Nigerian Government not moving against alleged drugs fugitives is that most youth in Nigeria will see involvement in drugs as tolerable. The national hierarchy of NDLEA must be reorganized and the funding mechanism of that body must be revitalized to make it financially strong to engage in this serious battle against hard drugs. Hard drugs ruin the future of the youth and also exposes this nation to the attacks of vicious violent elements such as terrorists and anarchists. Nigerians please come let us reason together and tackle our drugs related challenges because the extensive damage that hard drugs have done to Nigeria and Nigerians may take ages to rectify.