Nigerian man escapes death penalty after appeal acquittal | The New Paper

Nigerian man escapes death penalty after appeal acquittal

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A Nigerian man, originally sentenced to death for importing nearly 2kg of methamphetamine, commonly known as "Ice", escaped the gallows yesterday after he was cleared on appeal.

In handing down the acquittal, the Court of Appeal said the prosecution had failed to establish that Adili Chibuike Ejike knew that the drug bundles in his suitcase were in his possession, which was a key element of the offence.

The three-judge court, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, disagreed with the prosecution that Adili had been "wilfully blind" to the existence of the drugs.

Even if the Nigerian had taken reasonable steps to check the contents of his suitcase, he would not have discovered the drugs, which were found only when the inner lining was cut open by the authorities, said the court.

In November 2011, Adili, who was 28 at the time, arrived at Changi Airport with a small suitcase. After an X-ray scan showed an area of darker density, immigration officers cut the inner lining of the bag, revealing two bundles. These were later found to contain 1.96kg of Ice.

Adili, who was unemployed, said a childhood friend in Nigeria had agreed to give him some financial help if he delivered the suitcase together with some money to an unspecified person in Singapore.

Yesterday, in a written judgement, the apex court said the focus of the case should really be whether Adili was, as a matter of law, in possession of the drugs.

This was because "possession" in this context required not just physical custody but also knowledge.

The prosecution's argument that Adili was wilfully blind implies that it accepts that he did not actually know of the existence of the drugs, said the court.

Therefore, the prosecution cannot invoke the presumption of possession in this case, the court concluded.