Photo of Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang from TOC

According to the judgment grounds explanation over the execution of a convicted drug trafficker, the Singapore Court said that the inmate on death row who appealed on the day of his execution is guilty for “abuse of process”.

“The 11th-hour bid’s only purpose was to prevent the carrying out of his sentence, and amounted to an abuse of process.”

Nigerian Chijioke Stephen Obioha, 38, was found guilty and sentenced to death on Dec 30, 2008 for trafficking 2.6 kg of cannabis in Singapore. An appeal in 2010 was dismissed but a new legislation for mandatory death penalty was introduced. Between 2011 and 2013, the inmate was given a chance to be re-sentenced under the new regime which gives judges the discretion not to impose the death penalty.

The drug trafficker lost a bid to overthrow his conviction in May 2015, which after that, he applied to be re-sentenced under the new legislation. After several hearings on his re-sentencing, he abruptly withdrew his application in August 2016.

On Oct 12, he was informed that he had 9 days, till Oct 21, to appeal his execution scheduled last Friday on Nov 18. He however missed the timeline and filed his latest appeal on Nov 16. The appeal he made stated that the eight years he spent on death row amounted to cruel and inhuman punishment. The appeal was denied and he was subsequently executed on Nov 18.

The Singapore Court of Appeal said that the inmate on death row was given ample time to appeal but did not do so.

The 3-member-judges Court of Appeal, comprising of Andrew Phang, Tay Yong Kwang and Hoo Sheau Peng, also said that the inmate’s 8-year jail sentence prior to his execution is perfectly humane:

“A moment’s reflection will reveal that, quite apart from there not being any cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, the applicant has been guilty of an abuse of process, as we have already stated.”