A Nigerian national who claimed he swallowed capsules containing “precious stones” escaped the gallows today, for drug trafficking but was jailed and ordered to be whipped for possession of drugs.
A Court of Appeal three-man panel led by Justice Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat sentenced Abuchi Ngwoke, 31, to 20 years jail and 10 strokes of whipping after convicting him for possession of 251.66 grammes of methamphetamine.
The court unanimously allowed Ngwoke’s appeal to set aside a Melaka High Court’s decision to convict and sentence him to death for trafficking in the drugs at the Melaka General Hospital between 5am on May 23, 2012 and 2.50pm on May 25, 2012.
Tengku Maimun said the court found there were merits on the issue raised by Ngwoke’s counsel, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik relating to the chemist’s evidence.
The panel which also included Court of Appeal judge Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi and High Court judge Datuk Kamardin Hashim ordered Ngwoke to serve his jail sentence from the date of his arrest on May 23, 2012.
According to the facts of the case, Ngwoke was arrested by the police after he was found breaking into Batik Selat House MITC in Melaka and drank a bottle of ink.
He was brought to the General Hospital where 27 capsules allegedly containing methamphetamine were removed from his stomach.
In his defence, Ngwoke claimed that he swallowed “precious stones” which were wrapped, with soup after a man named Chibike told him that it contained precious stone gold dust which was used in jewellery-making in Malaysia.
He claimed he was drunk when he followed Chibike’s instructions to swallow the capsules which he believed contained precious stones, before leaving for Malaysia.
In the appeal today, Teh submitted there were infirmities in the chemist’s evidence with regard to her analysis of the drugs because there was no evidence she had read her written statement on her analysis in open court under oath.
He also argued that Rozieyati Abdullah’s written statement was inadmissible because there was no notation that she had identified her written statement and also no record that her statement was marked by the court.
He also said the High Court judge erred when he descended into the arena of conflict and crossed-examined Ngwoke relating to the issue of his consciousness which was prejudicial to his client.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nurshafini Mustafha said there were no infirmities in the chemist evidence, adding that her evidence on the analysis of the drugs was sufficient.
She also said the judge had asked Ngwoke questions for purpose of clarification relating to his consciousness when he reached the KL International Airport (KLIA) from Lagos, Nigeria and to Melaka.
According to Nurshafini, Ngwoke was conscious at the time he swallowed the capsules as he could explain with great clarity about the journey he went through from Lagos to KLIA.