China Sentences Another Canadian To Death For Drug Trafficking

 

A Chinese court sentenced a second Canadian man to death for drug trafficking on Tuesday, eliciting a rebuke from Canada’s foreign minister, amid diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.

The court in southern Guangdong province said the Canadian, Fan Wei, and 10 others — including an American and four Mexicans — had been part of an international narcotics syndicate working out of Taishan city between July and November 2012.

The group produced and sold 63.38 kilos (140 pounds) of methamphetamine and 366 grammes of dimethylamylamine, a drug used for attention deficit-hyperactive disorder, weight loss and improving athletic performance, according to the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court.

Fan and a Chinese man who played a key role in operations were sentenced to death, the court said in a statement.

“The number of drugs sold and manufactured was extremely large and the crimes were extremely serious,” the statement said.

The other foreigners were given suspended death sentences which would be reduced to life imprisonment after two years while the rest of the men faced prison terms.

They have 10 days to appeal the sentence.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland reacted to the sentencing, saying the Canadian government is “very concerned.”

“Canada stands firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty, everywhere around the world,” she told reporters. “We think that this is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which should not be used in any country.

“We are obviously, particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians.”

Fan is the second Canadian to face capital punishment this year.

In January, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was handed the death penalty following a one-day retrial after he appealed an earlier 15-year sentence in a separate drug trafficking case.

China says that he was a key member of an international drug trafficking syndicate but Schellenberg claims that he was visiting as a tourist.

The sentence came amid the backdrop of frosty diplomatic relations between China and Canada, with Beijing furious over the Vancouver arrest of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

Chinese authorities later detained two Canadian nationals — a former diplomat and a business consultant — on suspicion of endangering national security, a move seen as retaliation over the Huawei executive’s arrest.

Schellenberg has appealed his sentence and Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition.

AFP

Australian Woman Accused Of Drug Trafficking Pleads Not Guilty

An Australian mother of three escaped the death penalty on Wednesday (December 27), after she was acquitted by a Malaysian court of drug-trafficking.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was released after spending three years in prison. She was accused of drug trafficking after authorities found 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine in her bag at Kuala Lumpur airport in December 2014. She was transiting through the Malaysian capital en route from Shanghai to Melbourne.

Under Malaysian law, anyone found guilty of possessing more than 50 grams of illegal drugs faces a mandatory death penalty by hanging. The law was amended last month to get rid of the mandatory death penalty, allowing judges discretion in sentencing but the changes have not yet come into effect.

Esposto’s lawyers have argued that she was the victim of an internet romance scam. They said she was lured into carrying a bag containing drugs unknowingly by a friend of her online boyfriend, who had claimed to be a U.S. soldier serving in Afghanistan. The judge referred Exposto to the immigration department for deportation.

U.S. Sentences Nephews Of Venezuelan First Lady To 18 Years

A US judge on Thursday sentenced two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady to 18 years in prison for drug trafficking, damning them as “not the most astute drug traffickers that ever existed.”

Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 31, and Francisco Flores de Freitas, 32, were convicted by a New York jury last year after being arrested in a US sting operation Haiti in 2015.

District Judge Paul Crotty imposed the 18-year jail term in a Manhattan federal court on Thursday and fined each cousin $50,000.

US government prosecutors had requested a 30-year sentence, arguing that they believed they could operate with impunity as members of the most powerful family in Venezuela.

Defense lawyers sought the minimum 10-year penalty and the two cousins apologized in court, Flores de Freitas breaking down into tears at the mention of his nine-year-old son and asking the judge for a chance to repair his mistakes.

“If they were not from Venezuela but from the Dominican Republic or the Bronx this would be a 10-year case,” said defense attorney David Rody.

But “they’re not the (Venezuelan) president and they should not bear the brunt of the government’s ire towards Venezuela,” he added.

The judge ruled that the two defendants seemed “more concerned about the impact on the family than on violating the law in the United States.”

He noted that “opportunities for visitation from Venezuela will be very limited” given US travel restrictions imposed on many Venezuelans with ties to President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Their arrest and trial fanned tensions in already fraught US-Venezuelan relations, with Washington at loggerheads with Maduro and the South American oil giant mired in economic crisis.

The cousins, who are sons of brothers of First Lady Cilia Flores, were convicted of plotting to smuggle 800 kilos (1,760 pounds) of cocaine into the United States, as well as manufacturing and distribution with the intent to import.

The Venezuelan government says they were framed.

Lawyers for both defendants argued that they fell into a trap set by the US Drug Enforcement Administration in a sting operation that offered $20 million for the drugs.

US prosecutors say the men believed they were above the law as relatives of Maduro. Their aunt, Cilia Flores, was speaker of the National Assembly from 2006 to 2011.

AFP

Bayelsa: NDLEA Secures 19 Convictions In 2016

Bayelsa: NDLEA Secures 19 Convictions In 2016The Bayelsa State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), says it arrested 215 suspected drug traffickers and seized a total of 219.999kg of various types of illicit drugs in the state in the outgoing 2016.

The command’s Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, Superintendent Osakwe Ikenna, said that of the 215 suspects, 164 were male and 51 were female.

“The command also successfully secured 19 convictions, while a total of 149 persons who used drugs were counselled”.

The spokesman said, “At present, two residential clients are still undergoing rehabilitation.

“The command equally carried out aggressive and far-reaching public enlightenment through lectures, radio and television programmes, print media, drug free clubs and collaboration with various groups, communities and associations”.

Specifically, “In the last quarter of 2016, the command arrested 39 suspects, out of which 29 were males and 10 were females as well as seizing 52.997kg of various types of illicit drugs from drug traffickers in the state”.

He further stated that during the last quarter, the NDLEA operatives apprehended several drug dealers on the command’s watch list, including a notorious baron, who was arrested on November 12, 2016.

“A total of 20kg of dried weed suspected to be Cannabis Sativa were recovered from his warehouse within Yenagoa metropolis”.

He said the suspected baron’s storekeeper and carrier were also arrested.

He reiterated that the command remains proactive and ever vigilant to frustrate the efforts of unrepentant drug barons, who destroy the lives of unsuspecting youth and foster criminality and insecurity in the society through the distribution and sales of illicit and controlled substances.

The spokesman appealed to communities to support the command by providing relevant and accurate information on drug dealers in their areas.

“We call on residents of the state to celebrate the remaining part of the festivities with due attention to their health and security, and especially, to abstain from all illicit substances.

“We also encourage parents to make themselves available to their wards and children, listen to them and give them moral and psychological support to prevent them from being lured into the use of illicit drugs by their peers,” he concluded.

 

Drug Trafficking: FG Seeks Change In Attitude By Nigerians

Drug Trafficking: Execution Of Nigerian In Singapore, Heartbreaking – Dabiri-ErewaAbout 118 Nigerians have been convicted of drug offences in various various parts of Asia.

This is according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, while reacting to the execution of a Nigerian man, Chijioke Obioha, in Singapore on Friday after his conviction for drug crime.

In an interview with Channels Television, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa called for a change of attitude on the part of Nigerians, particularly those who travel to or live in those countries, with respect to drugs which attract death penalty in some countries.

“You know that most of these countries have death penalty for drug offences.

“All Nigeria can do is appeal, which Nigeria has done. But the reality is what has just happened in Singapore.

“The penalty for drugs is death and its not only for Nigerians. When you’re caught, you appeal to them and they say they will have to obey the laws of their land.

“What we need to do is not about government. It is about everyone of us (and) the media. Let there be more awareness about the dangers of being with drugs.

“I believe that if they are caught here before they get out of Nigeria, then they will be saving their lives.

“For you to carry the drugs having known the consequences, it means you are ready to face the consequences,” she said.

FEC Approves Trade Agreements Between Nigeria, Singapore

fecThe Federal Executive Council (FEC), has approved an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of evasion of taxes on income and capital benefits, between Nigeria and Singapore.

Also on Wednesday, the FEC approved bilateral air service agreement with the State of Qatar and Singapore.

The Minister Of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, told State House Correspondents at the 22nd FEC meeting, that the agreement is aimed at encouraging “more direct foreign investments into Nigeria.

Furthermore, it is aimed at “letting investors know what their tax obligations will be and ensuring sustainable tax regime for each country.”

According to her, the agreement was because Singapore is a major trading partner with Nigeria.

Also in attendance were Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The agreement seems to be an indication that Singapore’s rejection of clemency appeal by a Nigerian man accused of drug possession, has not affected its bilateral relations with Nigeria.

Mr Sirika said that Singapore was fast becoming the most efficient and biggest hub around the far-eastern part of the globe, serving New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia and others.

“We thought that in our efforts to also create a hub within Nigeria, the centre of Africa, we can leverage on the opportunity to create air services between the two countries.

While praising Qatar’s robust aviation and ability to move goods and services in a very efficient manner, he said: “We saw the need to sign some agreements so that it will define how we are going to do businesses between Nigeria, Qatar and Singapore.”

 

Indonesia Executes Three Nigerians, One Local, Despite Protests

Indonesia, drug traffickersIndonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers, three of them Nigerians, in the early hours of Friday, leaving the fate of 10 others uncertain.

The Africans and an Indonesian man were shot by firing squad during a thunderstorm shortly after midnight on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, as the government ignored international calls for clemency and pushed ahead with what it considers a war on drugs.

The attorney general said on Wednesday that 14 prisoners, including citizens of India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, would be executed this weekend.

An official said on Friday the planned executions would go ahead “in stages” but declined to give a timeframe.

Security was stepped up at the Indonesian embassy in Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday as protesters gathered to urge Indonesia to halt the executions. Indian and Pakistani officials said they were making last-minute efforts to save their citizens.

“We considered several factors and decided that for now four death row inmates would be executed,” Noor Rachmad, an official at the attorney general’s office, told reporters shortly after Friday’s executions.

Just over a year ago, Indonesia executed 14 prisoners, mostly foreign drugs offenders, causing diplomatic outrage.

Rights activists and governments have again called on Indonesia to abolish the death penalty.

But that has gone unheeded by the government of President Joko Widodo, who has said drugs pose as serious a threat as terrorism in what is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest markets for narcotics.

The death penalty is widely accepted by the Indonesian public, but police on Thursday had to break up a protest outside the prison by members of a migrant workers group who called for mercy for an Indonesian woman who was scheduled to be executed.

The United Nations and European Union had urged the executions be halted.

“Such death sentences are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution as they are undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations,” the U.N. said in a statement on Thursday.

Amnesty International called the executions “a deplorable act that violates international and Indonesian law” and pleaded that the other death sentences not be carried out.

“The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won’t be compounded,” the rights group’s regional director, Rafendi Djamin, said.

Around 152 people remain on death row in the country, including convicted drug traffickers from the Philippines, France and Britain. Authorities plan to execute 16 prisoners this year and more than double that number in 2017.

Amnesty International Protests Planned Execution In Indonesia

Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Group, Amnesty International has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and other global leaders to prevail on Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, to stop the planned execution of five Nigerians and nine others.

Representatives of the group staged a protest at the Indonesian Embassy in Abuja, where they presented a letter to the Indonesian government.

The interim Country Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Mr Makmid Kamara, said that the argument to go ahead with the execution lacks merit.

Mr Kamara explained that many of the prisoners were alleged for drug offences, which, in the group’s view, does not meet the most serious crimes threshold under international rights law to justify execution.

The exercise which is expected to be carried out this week will include four Indonesians, a Pakistani, an Indian, a Zimbabwean, a Senegalese and a South African.

The Indonesian Deputy Attorney General has confirmed that there’s no going back with his decision to execute 14 people on death row for drug crimes.

The prisoners have been notified of the plans for their executions, in accordance with Indonesian law, and could be put to death as early as Friday.

The 14 have been put in isolation and the executions are due to take place by Sunday at the latest.

Some Nigerians To be Executed In Indonesia

IndonesiaHistory is repeating itself again in Indonesia, where the Deputy Attorney General has confirmed that there’s no going back with his decision to execute 14 people on death row for drug crimes.

UN human rights officials have expressed deep concern over the planned executions, urging Jakarta to put an end to “unjust” capital punishment.

The inmates have not been officially named but they are known to include citizens of Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India.

The prisoners have been notified of the plans for their executions, in accordance with Indonesian law, and could be put to death as early as Friday.

The 14 have been put in isolation and the executions are due to take place by Sunday at the latest.

Peacekeeping: Nigerian Army Deploys Troops To Liberia

peacekeeping, Nigerian ArmyThe Nigerian Army on Friday deployed another batch of 700 officers and soldiers to Liberia on a peacekeeping mission.

The troops received a 4-week special training in preparation for their induction into the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia.

The troops had their passing out ceremony at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, Kaduna State, ahead of their departure to Liberia.

While addressing his men, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, warned them to avoid any act capable of tarnishing the image of the nation.

General Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Major General Hamza Umaru, also warned them that the Nigerian Army would not tolerate any act of cowardice or professional negligence while carrying out their operations in Liberia.

He advised the troops to abide by the Rules of Engagement, exhibit braveness as professionals and to also respect the cultural sensitivity of the people of Liberia.

He also reminded them of the United Nations’ zero tolerance for drug trafficking.

On his part, the Acting Commandant of Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Brigadier General Adamu Dauda, said that the special training received by the soldiers is meant to equip them with the requisite skills that will enable them operate effectively in Liberia.

He expressed confidence that the high level of enthusiasm and cohesion exhibited by the soldiers would reflect on their operational conduct.

The training, according to the authorities, is in line with the Nigerian Army Headquarters’ desire to ensure that troops receive the needed robust and theatre-specific pre-deployment training prior to their induction into peacekeeping missions.

The contingents are expected to depart to Liberia in a couple of days.

Woman Docked For Allegedly Peddling 4.5Kg of Cocaine

cocaineThe National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Monday arraigned a 38-year-old woman before a Federal High Court in Lagos for drug trafficking.

The accused, Alake Abdulrazaq, is standing trial on a one-count charge bordering on the offence. She, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The prosecutor, Mr Abu Ibrahim, told the court that the accused committed the offence on October 12.

He said that she was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, during the outward clearance of passengers on-board an Ethiopian Airline flight to India.

Ibrahim said that about 4. 5kg of Cocaine was recovered from the accused, which she concealed in a neat wrap.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Section 11 (a) of the NDLEA Act, Cap N30 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The offence of drug trafficking can attract as much as life imprisonment.

Justice Saliu Saidu, following an application for bail by defence counsel, Mrs Lilian Omotunde, granted the accused bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.

He adjourned the case to February 2, 2016, for trial.

Navy Moves To Combat Maritime Challenges

Nigerian navyThe Nigerian Navy says new strategies have been put in place to combat the challenges of local and international crude oil theft, drug trafficking, gun running, illegal migration and terrorism.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Friday, ahead of the 2015 Nigerian Navy Retreat, the Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin, said the Nigerian maritime environment and the entire Gulf of Guinea region were witnessing complex security challenges.

He reaffirmed the Navy’s resolve to tackle the contemporary and emerging security challenges bedeviling the nation.

On Friday, the Navy arrested 11 crew members of a vessel, MT Camille, laden with about 4,000 metric tonnes of suspected stolen crude oil at Forcados in Delta State.

The Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy has also reiterated its commitment to increasing security on Nigeria’s water, to put an end to crime in the nation’s territorial boundaries.

To deepen efforts to end maritime challenges, the Navy has also entered into a partnership with the Nigerian Customs Service in the area of maritime security and exchange of information that will help in improving Nigeria’s economy.