Nigerian escapes gallows after Federal Court overturns drug trafficking ruling

Jonas (centre) walks free after the Federal Court set aside the conviction and sentence.

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By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, Nov 11: A Nigerian man escaped the gallows after the Federal Court overturned his conviction over drug trafficking by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Jonas Chihurumnanya, a Nigerian national, had been charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952 and had been convicted by the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The offence carries a death penalty upon conviction.


However, Chihurumnanya appealed to the Federal Court.

The Federal Court panel chaired by Dato Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh had unanimously found that based on the evidence adduced, the High Court erred in concluding that the appellant had mens rea of possession as the circumstantial evidence did not irresistibly point towards the appellant having knowledge of the alleged drugs in the boot of the Kancil driven by him.

The Federal Court also held that there was a serious misdirection by the trial judge when he invoked both the statutory presumption under Section 37(d) (da) (xvi) of DDA 1952 and at the same time relied upon Section 2 of the DDA to prove the element of trafficking.

The Federal Court was of the firm opinion that the appellant conviction and sentence was not safe and therefore allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction and sentence by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The appellant was therefore acquitted and discharged of the charge.

Chihurumnanya was charged with trafficking 158.30 grammes of methamphetamine, at the car park of a fastfood restaurant in Tabuan Jaya, at about 12.05am on June 7, 2016.

He was charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the DDA 1952 and punishable under Section 39B(2) of the same Act, which carries a death sentence or imprisonment for life and with whipping, upon conviction.

Chihurumnanya was represented by Satinder Singh Sandhu, Muhammad Izayyeem Azim and Lim Vui Seng while Deputy Public Prosecutor How May Ling represented the prosecution. — DayakDaily