Senate yesterday raised the alarm that about 153 Nigerians are currently awaiting execution in Malaysia and China, following their involvement in illicit drugs. The lawmakers also revealed that four out of 11 Nigerians on death row were executed in April 2015 by Indonesian authorities despite pleas for leniency by Nigeria, the United Nations and Amnesty International. This was as the senaNigerians were executed in China also in April last year, even as 120 others are still on death row for drug-related offences, with 74 of them being held in Guandong and Guanxi provinces. The lawmakers said in Singapore, one Nigerian is awaiting the hangman’s noose because of his participation in drug offence. These revelations came to light yesterday during a debate on a motion sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa and supported by 21 others.
The senators consequently urged the Federal Government to restructure and reposition the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to be able to meet the challenges of evasive drug traffickers who use Nigerians to traffic the illicit products. The lawmakers also asked the police, NDLEA, NAFDAC, Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, PCN, and other regulatory agencies to develop a collaborative approach towards curbing the incidence of drug use and abuse in the country. They, in addition, mandated the Committee on Drugs and Narcotics to urgently consider the amendment of Section 23 of the PCN Act, to include the sale of prescription pills over the counter as an offence punishable by the Act. In his lead presentation, Ashafa disclosed that many Nigerian youths’ involvement in illicit global drugs trade had led them to be currently on death row in different countries. According to him, drug offences in some countries attract capital punishment. Ashafa expressed concerns that in spite of the execution, some desperate Nigerians were still not deterred. He said: “The case for leniency was rendered impotent because, at that point, seven fresh cases of drug trafficking involving Nigerians had just emerged in Indonesia.”
He stated that these desperate Nigerians used to disguise as university students colluding with drug syndicates to undermine the visa system and gain entrance into Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other drug traffic routes. According to him, 30 out of 80 foreign students arrested in 2015 were Nigerians in Malaysia where authorities have confirmed that 40 per cent of foreigners arrested for drug offences are from Nigeria. Senator Ashafa regretted that Nigerians’ involvement in drug business is tarnishing the image of the country. “Our nationals are viewed with suspicion and subjected to demeaning treatment at airports across the world as a result of this negative perception.” The lawmaker chided the Federal Government for not taking serious actions to curb the menace of drug couriers and their sponsors within and outside the country. In their contributions, Senators Sam Anyanwu, Oluremi Tinubu, Barau Jibrin and Ovie Omo- Agege also condemned the rate at which Nigerian youths are involved in drug-related offences.