We Believe in Second Chances urges the President and Cabinet of Singapore to halt the imminent execution of Nigerian national Chijioke Stephen Obioha, whose execution has been scheduled for Friday 18 November.
Chijioke was arrested on 9 April 2007 and subsequently charged with trafficking 2,604.56 grammes of cannabis. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by the High Court in November 2008. Under Singaporean law, trafficking more than 500 grammes of cannabis is sufficient to attract the mandatory death penalty. A search of his rented room also turned up items like a utensil for smoking cannabis and a weighing scale.
Amendments were made to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty regime in 2012, and came into force in 2013. These changes meant that Chijioke was eligible to apply for re-sentencing, but he refused to do so because he insisted that he was innocent and felt that applying for re-sentencing would be an admission of guilt. His clemency petition was rejected in 2015 and his execution set for May that year.
One day before his execution, Chijioke decided to apply for re-sentencing, and was granted a stay of execution to do so. However, he later withdrew his application after being advised that he was unlikely to qualify as a courier under the amendments – one of the requirements that need to be fulfilled before one has a chance to escape the gallows. The stay of execution was lifted in October this year.
It is our view that the mandatory death penalty is a disproportionate and ineffective punishment to deal with the issue of drug trafficking. There is no evidence that this final and irreversible punishment is a more effective deterrent than alternative options, and our experience consistently emphasises that it is often disadvantaged individuals near or at the bottom of a drug syndicate’s hierarchy who face the gallows.
We also note that Chijioke has endured a very long period of 9 years in prison, much of it on death row. He is very far away from home, and has not been able to see his family in this time. We understand that death row inmates are kept in their cells for 23 hours a day, with only about a hour of ‘yard time’. We cannot underestimate the extreme psychological toll of being stuck on death row, facing imminent execution in such conditions.
We urge the Cabinet of Singapore to halt the execution. It is still not too late to advise the President to grant clemency to Chijioke.
We also call upon all concerned individuals to contact the President and Cabinet of Singapore to add their voices to this plea for Chijioke’s life. Contact details for the President and members of the Cabinet are listed below.
President Tony Tan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: email@example.com
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam: email@example.com
Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang: email@example.com
Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim: email@example.com
Minster for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: email@example.com
Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong: email@example.com
Minster for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat: email@example.com
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing: email@example.com
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-jin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong: email@example.com
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng: email@example.com
Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung: firstname.lastname@example.org