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Meet the 4 Nigerians on Death Row in Indonesia for Drug Trafficking: Martin Anderson, Okwudili Oyatanze, Jamiu Abashi & Silvester Nwolise



Last week, BN brought you news that Indonesia has concluded arrangements to execute several foreign drug trafficking convicts, including four Nigerians.

And now, New York Times, has released the photos and profiles of all the ten convicts. They are set to be executed by firing squad.

Here are the four Nigerians on the list, as reported by the publication:

Martin Anderson

Martin AndersonAnderson, 50, was arrested in Jakarta in 2003 on a charge of possessing about 1.8 ounces of heroin and was accused of being part of a local drug ring. He had traveled to Indonesia on a fake Ghanaian passport and has been incorrectly identified as Ghanaian. He was sentenced to death in 2004.

According to his lawyer, Kusmanto, who like many Indonesians uses one name, Anderson was shot in the leg during his arrest — a method the Indonesian police are sometimes known to use when apprehending a suspect — and remains bothered by the wound to this day.

He has been in poor spirits since being transferred to Nusakambangan Island for execution, Kusmanto said.

Anderson has filed for a judicial review of his conviction and death sentence with the Supreme Court, but his lawyer said he feared the court would not consider the appeal until after he is executed.

Such appeals can take six months to be heard, Kusmanto said. “Obviously we hope it’s sooner.”

Okwuduli Oyatanze

okwuduli newKnown in Indonesia’s penal system as “The Death Row Gospel Singer,” Oyatanze, 41, was arrested in 2001 while trying to smuggle 5.5 pounds of heroin through Jakarta’s international airport, in his stomach, after arriving on a flight from Pakistan. He was convicted the following year and sentenced to death.

Oyatanze has made the most of his incarceration, writing more than 70 songs and recording multiple albums behind bars. He has performed with prison guards as well as fellow inmates.

In one of his music videos  shot in 2008, Oyatanze sang his song “God You Know,” which was also the name of an album he released that year.

“He has turned his life around in jail,” said the Rev. Charles Burrows, a Catholic priest from Ireland who now lives in Indonesia and is offering religious counseling to Oyatanze as he awaits his execution.

Raised in Biafra, a strife-­torn state in southeastern Nigeria, Oyatanze started a garment business in 1999, traveling to Indonesia to buy clothing and resell it in Nigeria. The business collapsed, and Oyatanze, heavily in debt, traveled to Pakistan to try to revive it, at the suggestion of a fellow Nigerian living there.

The plan involved swallowing capsules of heroin before boarding a flight to Jakarta. “There was a chance to earn some easy money, so he became a courier,” Burrows said.

Jamiu Owolabi Abashin

jamiuAbashin, 50, was living on the streets of Bangkok in 1998 when a fellow African living there took pity on him and brought him home. Shortly thereafter, according to Abashin, his new friend asked whether he wanted a quick-paying job, in which he would get $400 for bringing a package of clothing to the friend’s wife in Surabaya, Indonesia, where she sold used shirts and pants.

Abashin readily agreed, but soon wished he hadn’t: The package contained nearly 12 pounds of heroin, and he was arrested after landing at Surabaya’s airport. Abashin, who was traveling on a false Spanish passport, contended he was duped.

He was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison, which was reduced to 20 years on appeal. State prosecutors challenged the sentence reduction before the Indonesian Supreme Court, which in 2006 sentenced Abashin to death.

In a request for presidential clemency in 2008, he admitted knowingly smuggling the drugs. The request was denied in January.

The Indonesian government refers to him as Raheem Agbaje Salami, the name on the fake Spanish passport he was using when he was arrested.

Ursa Supit, an Indonesian legal activist who is advocating on Abashin’s behalf, says that because he had no money, he was assigned a state lawyer for his trial and had no legal counsel when he appealed to the Supreme Court.

Abashin, who now has a lawyer, is challenging Joko’s rejection of his clemency request.

“He has been inside now for 17 years, and he has never broken a rule inside,” Ms. Supit said. “And now they are going to execute him. He’s never had money for lawyers. It’s not fair.”

Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise

sylvester47-year-old Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise’s story, as his wife tells it, is similar to those of other Nigerians on Indonesia’s death row for drug trafficking. Unemployed in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, he was lured to Pakistan by fellow Nigerians on the promise of a job with good wages.

But once in Pakistan, instead of a job, he got an offer to swallow some capsules – filled with goat horn powder, his wife, Fatimah Farwin, says he was told – and fly to Indonesia.

“They said they didn’t want to pay tax on it,” Fatimah said. “When he arrived at the airport in Jakarta, the police saw him – I don’t know how – they caught him and X-rayed him, and they found it and it was drugs.”

Arrested in 2001, Nwolise was convicted the following year of bringing 2.6 pounds of heroin into the country, and was sentenced to death.

During his trial, according to Fatimah, Nwolise had no translator, and his Indonesian lawyer could barely communicate with him. She said that a judge, through an intermediary, offered to sentence him to prison rather than death if he paid a bribe of 200 million rupiah, worth about $22,000 at the time.

“But he was just a poor courier. He didn’t have any money,” Fatimah said.

Fatimah, who is Indonesian, met Nwolise in prison in 2007, when she was accompanying a friend who was visiting another inmate. The two married later that year; they have since had two children, now 5 and 3, but she has not brought them to see him since they were infants. She has told them that their father is working in an office in another country.

In January, the Indonesian police accused Nwolise of running a drug syndicate from prison. No charges were brought, but  Fatimah, who says emphatically that her husband is innocent of the accusation, believes it resulted in his being placed in the group of inmates now facing imminent execution.

“Some woman on the outside blamed him,” Fatimah said, referring to a police informant, “but when they came to his cell, they never found anything – never, never, never. He never had a trial and next thing, they wanted to execute him.”

To view the full profiles of all the inmates, visit New York Times


  1. Emerald

    April 26, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Nigerians dirtying Ghana’s name since 1821. Anderson? With that Aboki look? Thank God they found out the passport was fake. God have mercy on their souls. Asians don’t joke with drug traffickers.

    • nene

      April 26, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      many africans have been soiling nigeria’s name for years by claiming to be nigerians so they can be deported here. it is well documented by the UKBA .

    • Tee

      April 26, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Seriously?? People are being sentenced to death and that’s the only thing you could pick up on?? You have issuess

    • Ade

      April 26, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Let’s count how many Igbos? Ok, then Yorubas? Even the Yoruba was a case of being a “set up messenger”. Where are all the Igbos who were commenting last time about Igbos being the best in everything, that’s why Yorubas are jealous. Come out and talk now with your big mouths. Most drug trafficking, fraud, rituals for money, prostitution, crimes etc are Igbos. Igbo people spoiling Nigeria’s name abroad, and even within.

    • Naijatalk

      April 27, 2015 at 3:37 am

      You must be under some form of demonic influence because your reasoning is abnormal. Did a woman in Delaware not kill her husband? Did any info person harp on that. Away with you vile creature.

    • Ade

      April 27, 2015 at 12:54 pm


      Answer the simple question. How many Igbos on the list? Own the truth about yourselves instead of running away. Say whatever you want, doesn’t change the truth about Igbos committing the MOST crimes. You guys claim to be best in everything, include the crime part too. The case in Delaware is one in a million compared to the high number of Igbos committing crime all over the place.

    • soph

      April 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      You have a very big problem and the earlier you deal with it the better for you. Tribalistic he-goat.

    • annie

      April 27, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      You noticed it too, the ibos r only trying to improve the economy of that country as they always do everywhere they go. Such generous ppl.

    • Chiomski

      April 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      I guess the Nigerian lady that stabbed and killed her hubby in the US is Ibo too…. Ade-Monkey.

    • Kemi

      April 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

      My first time commenting here, please Yoruba, Hausa, igbo, Benin or whatever tribe you are called. Nigerian is Nigerian. Please spread love not hate. I will always stand for a nigerian whether igbo or Yoruba. It doesn’t matter.

    • Lady D

      April 28, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Why Ade, you are very bold! LOL

    • Tee

      April 30, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      According to you. But Ghanaians do tge same and that guy doesn’t look like an Aboki

  2. bruno

    April 26, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I feel bad for Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, he didn’t know there were drugs in the package he was told to deliver. he thought it wad only clothes.

    pls, nigerians and nigerians in the diaspora, anybody who gives you a package to give to their sister or mother or brother etc when u are travelling abroad or coming back from obodo oyinbo , u better enquire whats in the package. the person should open the package in front of you. you yourself u better inspect it thoroughly.

  3. $exyD

    April 26, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Where is Biafra state in Nigeria?… Most of their stories are fabricated…I’ll rather drink only water than soil my family name!

    • Funmi

      April 26, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Forget soiling my family name, bad as e bad maybe just may be i may resort to prostitution just so i will not starve. Rather than being caught with drugs in Asia, imprisoned for decades then finally executed. No amount of money will make me do it. Also i heard that these drug rings have people they calk collateral damage. Eg if they have 5 people travelling on the same flight with drugs, they somehow alert the authorities to one person so that almost all the attention will be focused on that person and the other four can pass freely with less chance of being caught. So if someone promises to pay me 1 billion dollars how will i know i am not the sacrificial lamb?

    • bn lover

      April 27, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      @Funmi you don’t play around…

  4. hearsay

    April 26, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    So sad! Some of them its not really great…its a case of condition mek crayfish bend…or lack of knowledge.

    I pray they find Jesus before their death.

    • Funmi

      April 26, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      You’re right. Its lack of knowledge cos they look for people who will believe their ‘its easy to do it’ story.

  5. yellow sissy

    April 26, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    And their parents will be proud to say’Nwa m no obodo Oyibo’

  6. Ushertech

    April 26, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Life is all about risk . Get rich or die trying

    • Tosin

      April 27, 2015 at 7:59 am

      a lot of the crazy behaviour our people display here in the name of getting rich,
      better don’t leave Naija because you will just
      die trying


  7. whatwillbewillbe

    April 26, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    ‘ didn’t want to open this page, I only did because the Igbo name caught my attention and I said to myself”there will surely be someone who will bash the Igbos”. Unfortunately, Ade had to prove me right. Why is there so much hate in our hearts eh? Nigerians please try love, hate hasn’t gotten us anywhere fast, let’s try something else biko. God bless Nigeria and NIGERIANS

    • bamikole ola

      April 27, 2015 at 1:05 am

      Thanks igbo or not these guys are Nigerian, let us show love to one and another and let us pray for them, I still believe that there’s nothing God cannot do

    • Naijatalk

      April 27, 2015 at 3:40 am

      Can I say I love your heart. These people including the lady in Delaware need our prayers. May God send help

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      April 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

      And what I’ve found so ironical (and almost funny in a bitter way) is how angry Nigerians have been about South Africans acting out the very same hatred and bile we seem to be willingly carrying around in our own hearts every single day. They (clearly) hate us for whatever reason but we also hate ourselves with equal passion, as the hundreds of comments made following the infamous Oba of Lagos’ speech will prove to you. Oh, we hate ourselves so much that it makes the South Africans’ own demonstration of anger to almost pale in comparison.

      Our hypocrisy baffles me and I wonder how we don’t see it staring back at us when we look in the mirror…

  8. pearl

    April 27, 2015 at 8:35 am

    @ ade

    @ ade why are u threatened by ibo people u didn’t read about ur yoruba Adebamiro lady who stabbed her hubby abi or u suddenly became blind to d story. Yorubas now do rituals, kidnapping e.g d nanny who kidnapped dose 3 boys, prostitution, fraud etc. It’s in all tribe now d quest to get rich so Pls wen u point a finger @ some1 d remaining four points back @U

    • Lady D

      April 28, 2015 at 9:10 am

      I don’t use the word tribe, rather I utilize the term ethnic groups. Its sounds less derogatory. I agree with you Pearl, that people of all ethnic groups commit these dubious acts, but I think you are kind of missing the message that Ade is trying to convey. Ade was pointing out that Igbo people are known for doing diabolical acts more than any of ethnic groups. Instead of pointing the finger at his group, why not try to figure out why he has these views?!

      P.S. Not everyone is threatned or jealous of Igbos……..Just pointing that out…….ta-ta

    • Naijatalk

      April 28, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      How lame Lady D, how lame

    • Bruness

      April 29, 2015 at 8:31 am

      So lame Lady D so so Lame!!!

  9. coke

    April 27, 2015 at 9:53 am

    May they rest in peace.

  10. Ebony

    April 27, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I hope it’s done in the mos humane way possible. No pain, besides the mental/psychological/emotional torture

  11. Azuhra

    April 27, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Law is law. Everyone must obey the law without any exception. Anybody who come to a country and does crime must be aware of the law. Indonesia is a law-based nation.
    Ever since many years ago, there has been death penalty for this extraordinary crime. It’s clear if someone breaks the law, they are ready for the penalty.
    There are about 50 people in Indonesia who die because of narcotics each day. This is clearly the sovereignity of Indonesia to save its citizens from narcotics and to implement the law. No single person or country is able to interfere Indonesian judicial system.
    Everyone has right. Yes, you have right but your right is limited by other people’s right. Everyone has the right to live, but if you take other’s right to live, directly or not, you lost that right man. Same towards those drug trafficker.

  12. JULIE

    April 28, 2015 at 10:07 am

    One thing i hate, peo can nt use others to learn, In a month time nt only in Naija guys ll still carry drugs to Indonesia, so sad.


    April 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm


  14. Quayson

    April 29, 2015 at 4:12 am

    When we talk about issues concerning life’s, we don’t talk about Ethnic groups or Tribes. We talk about human life. I am a Ghanaian but whether the soo called drug dealers or pushers were Ghanaians or Nigerians I care less. Now all these are because of our love for money. The Bibles says it, Money is the root of all evil. If our love for money grows, we will do the unthinkable.

    • Lady D

      April 29, 2015 at 6:17 am

      I agree, money can be the root of evil.

  15. Nasiru mustapha mafindi

    April 29, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Igbo’s are tarnishing the image of nigeria, I don’t know what money buy. Gosh

    • MsThing

      April 30, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      You are very ignorant to say that, what about the Hausa Boko Haram killing thousands and kidnapping people from their homes in the name of Islam. Let’s face it, there is a few percentage of igbos involved in crimes, generally the Igbos are the main people pulling the economy of Nigeria with their businesses. Besides, it was not only Igbo names that I saw there, I also saw a Yoruba man who said he has been living on the streets of Bangkok for God knows when before he was deceived into pushing drugs – excuses, to get saved from the executioner gun. What is he doing living on the streets of Thailand? Does he not have a home to go to? Instead of going back home to Nigeria to start a new life, he still wants to go out to push drugs to be rich. This is besides the point, this problem is not an Igbo nor Yoruba problem sir, it is a Nigerian problem with our quest to be rich and be seen to be better than the next guy. It is time we start educating our people (especially those who do not have a good source of information on the streets) to be content with whatever they have. If it is God’s will that they make it to the wealth status they will, if they jump the gun and run ahead of God’s plan for their lives, this is how it will end. Thank you BellaNaija for posting this to enlighten Nigerians of what is going on out there, it is a dog eat dog world.

  16. tweegy

    April 29, 2015 at 8:56 am

    it pains that Nigerians won’t learn because very soon more people will carry drugs again to such countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore where its death sentence. how will some one tell you to carry something you don’t check it thoroughly or wonder why such people don’t carry themselves. This love of money does more harm than good.
    As Brazil has recalled its ambassador and sent back Indonesian envoy and Australia too is recalling its ambassador why is Nigerian government silent.

  17. Jayfromblock

    April 29, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    @Nasiru……I can see how honest the hausa man is abi……Boko haram is showing us how pure and true and honest u are abi????

  18. Truth

    April 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    @tweegy, Nigerian government is silent because it believes that if you go to someone’s country and break the law, you should bear the consequences. Cant take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

  19. andrew

    April 30, 2015 at 7:56 am

    The Asians are merely carrying on the white devil’s legacy of executing prisoners. The Brits themselves perfected the art of hanging a human being because previously bodies would be decapitated by accident. The Asians’ reaction to drug smuggling is steeped in colonial history where the Brits forced the sale of narcotics onto the Asian populations, addicting & poisoning them.

  20. feby

    April 30, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Dont do drugs ! there a hundreds of Nigerians in prisons in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and all of them are mostly convicted for drugs and now just waiting to die. There is no way out. once you are there. Besides the prison cell looks horrible that you will think staying in a public toilet is way better than that. There are millions of ways to make money ,even begging on the street is better than doing drugs because you know you will still be alive to enjoy your begged money but drug is not like that and nowadays, they have super good technology that they can even melt your wristwatch and check inside your hairspray all for drugs. They are not stupit, there a bunch of criminal minded people sitting and doing research on how smart drug smugglers can be.. So just don’t try to be smart ,talk like you know everything and end up with your bible in prison cell.

  21. Emeka Mbano

    September 23, 2016 at 11:29 am

    The so call Asians should be kind to stop been fool of killing in such matter.And using another country passport is always in existence both countries all over the world.

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