The Federal Government on Monday, again summoned the Indonesian Ambassador, Mr Harry Purwato, over the country’s planned execution of more Nigerians by firing squad for drug-related offences.
Amb. Danjuma Sheni, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a meeting with the envoy in Abuja that the death sentences should be converted to life imprisonment.
He told the envoy to speak with his home government to tamper justice with mercy in order not to allow anything to jeopardise the “very robust and excellent relationship” between Indonesia and Nigeria.
“Your Excellency, I have been asked to summon you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to appeal to you to talk to your government about the proposed execution of three Nigerians, who are currently on the death row in your country.
As you know, your country and Nigeria have a very robust and excellent relationship and we do not intend that anything should happen to our relationship.
We, in this context, are very aware of the consequences of drug trafficking in your country, but we still want to put it on record and we still want to appeal to you and to your President to tamper justice with mercy.
We understand that the three condemned Nigerians have gone through the judicial processes and their appeals to the President have been turned down.
We also understand, particularly, that one of them, Mr Salami, had been moved to an Island and that any moment from now, he may be executed.
We want to appeal to you and through you to your government that this death sentence that may be carried out on Mr Salami any moment from now should be converted to life imprisonment.”
The permanent secretary also appealed to the Indonesian envoy to fast-track the completion of the ongoing exchange of prisoners’ negotiation between the two countries.
According to him, when completed, Nigerians serving various prison terms in Indonesia will have the opportunity to serve their sentences in Nigeria.
“I am also to use this occasion, your Excellency, to appeal to you on the need to quickly complete the ongoing exchange of prisoners negotiation that we have with your country.
We wish that this be completed on time so that our nationals, who may be caught up there, would have the opportunity to serve their sentences in Nigeria.
Some of our nationals are not on death row; they are in there for some other alleged crimes and we would wish that those who are willing and who wish to, would serve their sentences in Nigeria.
So it is our wish as a country that we should complete this process immediately so that our nationals would avail themselves of that opportunity.
Ambassador, we want to thank you coming in here but these are the words that my government has asked me to convey to you and through you to your own government.”
Responding, Purwato acknowledged the robust nature of the relationship between his country and Nigeria, and explained that the trial of the Nigerians was done transparently.
He said foreigners travelling to Indonesia were usually informed in advance that trafficking in narcotics attracted the death penalty.
The envoy said that all the legal processes available to the convicts had been exhausted, adding, however, that he would deliver the Federal Government’s message to his home government.
He said: “Indonesians attach great importance to their relations with Nigerians and we also like to further our excellent relations in things that can be felt directly by the people of these two countries.
As you rightly said, permanent secretary, the death penalty in Indonesia is actually done in transparent, credible and accountable manner.
We do apply these executions to those who are adults and we do not apply to children, pregnant women or mentally ill persons.
Executions are done after strict and transparent due process of law by which also we know that it would have already passed the district, appellate and Supreme Courts.”
Purwato explained that the request for clemency by the Nigerians on death row had been rejected.
According to him, the Indonesian government usually allows the embassies of nationals on trial for drug-related offenses to be involved from the beginning to the end of all cases.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had in January, summoned the ambassador following the execution of two Nigerians by firing squad for drug offences.
NAN also reports that preparations are in top gear for the execution by firing squad of one Raheem Agbaje Salami and two other Nigerians convicted of drug smuggling.