Nigerian man escapes gallows after Federal Court sets aside drug trafficking conviction


KUCHING: A Nigerian national escaped the gallows when the Federal Court set aside his conviction and death sentence by the Kuching High Court in 2018 for drug trafficking.

A three-member panel led by Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh together with Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan and Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli unanimously discharged and acquitted Jonas Chihurumnanya after allowing his appeal in Zoom proceedings on Thursday (Nov 11).

The Federal Court found that the circumstantial evidence did not irresistibly point towards Chihurumnanya having knowledge of the alleged drugs in the boot of the car he was driving.

In the absence of knowledge, the panel held that the element of possession as required under the law was not established by the prosecution.

The Federal Court also held that there was a serious missdirection by the trial judge in invoking the statutory presumption under Section 37(da) of the Dangerous Drugs Act and at the same time relying upon Section 2 of the same Act to prove the element of trafficking, which prejudiced the appellant in terms of the burden of proof placed on him.

Chihurumnanya was charged under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act with trafficking 158.3g of methamphetamine in a car park at Jalan Canna here at about 12.05am on June 7, 2016.

He was found guilty and sentenced to death on Jan 30, 2018, by the Kuching High Court.

His counsel appealed the High Court's decision to the Court of Appeal but was dismissed on Oct 23, 2019. He subsequently appealed to the Federal Court.

Chihurumnanya was represented by Satinder Singh Sandhu, Muhammad Izayyeem Azim and Lim Vui Seng while deputy public prosecutor How May Ling represented the prosecution.

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