The execution, for the offence of drug trafficking in Indonesia, of two Nigerians along with a number of others is regrettable, a dent on the image of Nigeria and an embarrassment to its citizens. While the outrage of many Nigerians who cringed at the news of the killing of their compatriots is understandable, the lessons are that crime does not pay and the arm of the law is very long.
Also, there are critical issues that all must appreciate. Firstly, in every sovereign jurisdiction, the law, irrespective of how others may perceive it, is the law and it must take its course so long as the due process has been observed. Of course, due process may be subject to different interpretations but it is generally assumed to mean what agrees with universal principles of basic rights.
To this extent then, Daniel Enemuo and Chibuike Okafor paid the supreme price for their crime in faraway Indonesia. Twelve others are reported to be on death row. Secondly and as rightly put by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, ‘countries have got their laws and… no matter how much we love our nationals, they love their nationals,’ meaning that the Indonesian authorities will not watch as other nationals poison Indonesian citizens. No one can fault this constitutional duty of government. Thirdly, the hugely damaging effect of illicit drugs on the physical and psychological being of the user on the one hand, and on the wellbeing of society demands that all efforts must be applied to discourage hard drug trafficking, and use. Again, it is the abiding duty of any government worth its mandate to act in the interest of society.
The Indonesian incident is just one of several over the years. When Nigerians abroad are not being killed, they are being brutalised. In the latest case, Nigerian authorities have done their duty (albeit so feebly in comparison with the robust response of similarly affected nations) by first pleading for the lives of the executed men, and that failing, protesting their execution. But it must be admitted that it is beyond the Nigerian government brief to call for a review of Indonesian law that does not necessarily breach international law. That is needless interference in the domestic affairs of another country. If, as the Foreign Minister is reported to say, Nigeria is truly concerned to prevent a future execution in foreign lands of its citizens for drug-related or indeed any other crime, it is believed that the government knows what to do, namely: make Nigeria more attractive to live and work – and even die – in than foreign countries. That would protect Nigerians from falling victim of desperate acts.
This is not to assume that some incorrigible persons will still not go astray, but it is to say that far fewer able bodied Nigerians would choose the prospect of ignoble death abroad to a honest-to-God livelihood at home. The point must not be lost that Messrs Enemuo and Okafor, like others in prisons abroad, have brought shame to their fatherland. And, they cannot, in all honesty, claim ignorance of the terrible risk they took. Granted that governments in Nigeria are failing miserably to meet their basic obligations to the citizens, nevertheless, there is no justification to resort to drug trade in the place of an honest job here or there, no matter how menial. As best as they can, Nigerian embassies must, however, monitor the Nigerian communities in their respective countries of assignment to prevent acts that bring the nation into disrepute.
All said, however, there is no alternative to a Nigeria that is well governed to enable its citizens live responsibly and respectably and be the best they can. This is the primary duty of any government.