81 Nigerians on death row in Malaysia, says report

nigerian4PETALING JAYA: A total of 81 Nigerians are currently on death row in Malaysia, with 80 of them having been sentenced to the gallows for drug-related offences.

In its report yesterday, the Lagos-based This Day newspaper cited sources at the Malaysian embassy in Nigeria as pointing out that most of those caught for drug trafficking had held student status in Malaysia.

“As at today, 123 Nigerian students are in various detention centres after being arrested by the Royal Malaysia Police for drug trafficking,” the sources were quoted as saying.

“This is out of a total of 350 foreign students in detention in Malaysia,” the sources added.

The report also cited another source from the Thai embassy as saying that an additional 350 Nigerians were in prison in Thailand for trafficking mainly cocaine and heroin.

The report was done in the wake of a massacre at a Catholic church in the town of Ozubulu on Aug 6 where 11 worshippers were killed and 18 others were injured.

It said the killings were related to a gang war among the Nigerian methamphetamine barons over sharing of proceeds of the illicit trade, and brought to the fore the “increasing prominent role” of Nigerians in the global drug business.

“This upsurge in the involvement of Nigerians in the global cocaine and heroin business has resulted in the arrest and conviction of many of the couriers, including students, in Malaysia and Thailand where demand for hard drugs is very high,” the report said.

“The finest quality of the deadly synthetic illicit drug called methamphetamine which is produced in Nigeria is also enjoying a boom and exported mainly to Japan,” it added.

The report also said that further investigation has revealed that South Africa was also among the preferred destinations for Nigerian barons to market methamphetamine.

According to This Day, a recent report by the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB) covering a period of three years from 2012 to 2014 confirmed that the finest quality of methamphetamine is produced in Nigeria and exported to mainly Japan.

It said the report was analysed by a Nigerian inter-agency strategic intelligence team from the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) which estimated that the business fetched the barons in Nigeria about US$939 million (RM4 billion) in the last three years.

On June 28, Bukit Aman Narcotics CID director Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff had said Nigerian nationals comprised the highest number of those arrested for drug cases and that many had entered the country on student passes.

According to him, based on statistics for 2015, 2016 and this year, 358 foreign students were arrested for possession and trafficking of drugs.

Several parties have since then called for more stringent checks on higher education institutions, especially private colleges that enrolled large numbers of foreign students.