Indonesia executes three Nigerians, five others

Jonathan and former President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Jonathan and former President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

DEFYING intense pressure from the international community, the Indonesia government, yesterday, executed eight death-row prisoners, including three Nigerians, on Nusakambangan Prison Island near Cilacap in Central Java.

According to Jakarta Post, the eight were Zainal Abidin (Indonesian), Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (Australians), Rodrigo Gularte (Brazillian), Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigerians) and Martin Anderson (a Ghanaian).

Indonesian television also reported that the execution of eight prisoners – all men – have taken place, but that the Filipina woman, Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at the last minute, after a woman accused of tricking her into carrying drugs turned herself in to police in the Philippines yesterday.

There are reports that the executions took place at around 00.25 local time (about 5pm Nigerian time).

Diplomats and human rights lawyers, yesterday, urged Nigerians to be law abiding.

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had, on behalf of Nwolise, Salami, and Oyatanze, pleaded for mercy and requested the release of the three Nigerians, an entreaty that was turned down by the Indonesian government. Nigeria’s plea came after the convicts failed in their judicial quest to upturn the judgment.

Martin Uhomoibhi, a former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged Nigerians to be law abiding, taking into cognisance the consequences of breaking the law.

“Like responsible Nigerians they must abide by the rules and regulations of that country knowing full well that the law of that country on drug trafficking imposes death penalty.

In the same vein, Suleiman Dahiru, a diplomat, blamed the convicts for not taking cognisance of the consequences of drug trafficking.

International Human Rights lawyer, Ajare Noah, called for abolition of death penalty for capital punishment. According to him, when people are kept alive, they would have opportunity for the retrial of their case.

“It is good to have people alive so that you can have the possibility of retrial so that there is a second look on their matter. But when you kill them by hanging or firing squad, the possibility of having a second look on their matter in future is extinguished permanently.
Meanwhile, a source at the foreign affairs ministry told The Guardian that Minister Aminu Wali would brief the press on the matter on Wednesday (today).

“We’ve carried out the executions,” said an Attorney General’s Office (AGO) official, talking to the press on condition of anonymity.
AGO spokesman, Tony Spontana, said the government had agreed to the final requests fielded by two Australian death-row convicts for their bodies to be flown to Australia for burial.
A Cilacap Police officer said that after the executions, prayers were said for each person according to their respective religion. “The executions went well, without any disruptions,” he said.
The AGO stated that the executions had been carried out after it had heard all eight convicts’ final requests.
The execution was the second round after the first was carried out on Jan. 18, during which six inmates from Indonesia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam and Malawi were killed by firing squad.

Pleas for leniency from their families and diplomats were rejected by President Joko Widodo. The group spent what is believed to be their final moments with their families.

Relatives of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were visibly distressed. Sukumaran’s sister collapsed and had to be carried.
A French prisoner, Serge Areski Atlaoui, has been given a temporary reprieve.

Ambulances carrying coffins arrived yesterday at a prison island and relatives paid final visits to their condemned loved ones despite an international outcry and pleas for mercy.
Raheem Agbaje Salami

Salami appears to be a Nigerian holding a Spanish passport. He is believed to be Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, but entered Indonesia using a Spanish passport with the name Raheem Agbaje Salami.
Salami was caught with 11lb of heroin inside his suitcase in Surabaya airport on September 2, 1998.

A court in Surabaya gave him a life sentence in April 1999, which was reduced by the High Court to 20 years.

Salami appealed and the Supreme Court gave him a death sentence. His clemency application was rejected on January 5, 2015.
He tried to challenge the rejection of his clemency but the challenge failed and he is in the process of an appeal.
Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise

Nwolise is a Nigerian citizen born on July 7, 1965. A court in Tangerang sentenced him to death in September 2004. His clemency appeal was rejected in February.

The court found him guilty of trafficking 2.6lb of heroin via Sukarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta in 2002.
In January 2015 the Indonesian National Narcotics Body said that Sylvester was running a drugs ring in Nusakambangan jail, where he was being held.
Okwudili Oyatanze

Oyatanze is a 45-year-old Nigerian citizen, and was given the death sentence by the Tangerang court for trafficking 2.4lb of heroin through Sukarno Hatta airport in 2001.

His clemency was rejected in February 2015.

Chan and Sukumaran — ringleaders of a group of Australian smugglers who became known as the Bali Nine — were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island in 2005 for trying to smuggle 8kg of heroin to Australia.

They both face being tied to wooden planks in a field and shot by a firing squad of 12 police officers aiming at the heart.
They will be given the signal to fire by a commander dropping a sword.

However, only three of the squad fired live rounds, so as not to identify the executioners.

According to the execution procedure, which is laid down in Indonesian law, if the first round of bullets does not kill them, they will be shot in the head.
Medical staff will then pronounce death before their bodies are handed over to their families.

Chan married his Indonesian girlfriend at the jail in Nusakambangan prison island with family and friends on Monday — his final wish.

Death-row convicts in Indonesia can request spiritual counsellors in their final hours, but Australian media said Chan and Sukumaran had seen theirs rejected.
“Last bit of dignity denied,” Chan’s brother, Michael, told Fairfax Media in a text.

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