Friday 27 June 2008

Indonesia: Two heroin smuggling Nigerians killed

For the want of wholesome ambassadors

The plight of Nigerians abroad is brought into stark relief when those of us who flout the laws of foreign countries are caught to face the full weight of the law.

In the light of my last blog about the introductory remarks made by the new ambassador to the Netherlands, one can almost sympathise with her perspective of Nigerians having a tendency to be less than scrupulous with our business dealings.

However, to subscribe to that view would be defeatist whilst robbing us all of the ability to seek redress for miscarriages of justice or clemency for conviction.

Shot at dawn for drugs

This morning, two Nigerians were shot by firing squad in Indonesian for trying to smuggle heroin into the country [Source- BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Nigerians executed in Indonesia].

They had been on death row since 2004 and somehow, one cannot say that if every avenue for clemency and mitigation was exhausted before they met their end.

There are many that might be persuaded to be ultra-conservative about drug-smugglers and assent to such a draconian punishment for those who bring the name of Nigeria into disrepute.

That does not however mean that our diplomatic representation in those countries should consider should these criminals beyond rehabilitation, redemption or without any prospect.

Obviously, being able to carry out the death penalty on people whose government cares little of their citizens abroad is a picture postcard deterrent to others, probably foreigners than indigenes.

Countries that fight for life

When I then juxtapose this against that of the three Australians who have been through the exhaustive process of appealing every conviction till their sentences were commuted to life in prison [Source - BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Bali three win execution appeal] – I am touched by the thought of a country that fights for the life and if possible, the liberty of their citizens anywhere in the world.

The Nigerians who were much older than the Australians only had 7kg of heroin; the lucky Australians had 8.3kg – it makes you wonder if regardless of the laws of the host nations our ambassadors have the wherewithal to exercise a sense of compassion and appeal to the humanity of the law to obtain clemency or commutations on behalf of the citizens they represent.

For now, I am not inspired by what I have seen done to Nigerians in Britain, Spain or Saudi Arabia and I am quite sorry about this state of affairs.

One aspect that can strengthen our resolve against the death penalty anywhere else in the world is to repeal that punishment from our statute books entirely. [Source - Capital punishment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

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