Nigerian national, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, who was first arrested in 2007, was executed in the early hours of Friday, November 1th, in Changi Prison, Singapore after last ditch criminal motion was thrown out by the Court of Appeal on Thursday evening.
Human Rights advocate and Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign member, Mr Ravi contacted Mr Jimmy Yuen, RCPM’s Chairman, at about 10am on Friday morning to request more details about the mass and burial. Mr Jimmy replied that it would be held on Saturday and promised to give Mr Ravi the details once it was finalized. As Mr Jimmy did not get back to Mr Ravi, Mr Chen contacted RCPM’s Spiritual Director Fr Kenny Tan in the evening to seek confirmation. The Priest reassured Mr Chen that he would let him know of the details, which were still being firmed up.
At about 9pm, the Priest confirmed that the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) would release Chijioke’s body to the RCPM who will hold a funeral mass service for him in the afternoon. However, he admitted to Mr Chen that he had to keep the details of the funeral confidential. Mr Chen then questioned the Priest about as to why it had to be kept Confidential but he didn’t reveal any more.
Mr Ravi, who has been fighting death row cases since 2003, shared that never before had there been such a bizarre situation where a client’s lawyer isn’t not privy to information about his client’s funeral. This, in spite, of the fact that Mr Chen is in contact with Chijioke’s family and was the one who gave authorization, on behalf of the Obiohas, to let RCPM conduct the funeral in the first place.
Despite many Catholics ringing up their churches and the Ministry to ask about the details of the funeral, no concrete information on the mass service materialized.
It was only at about 3pm on Saturday that Mr Ravi was directed to a listing on the Mandai Crematorium website which stated that Chijioke’s body was going to be cremated at 1530hrs. In an emotional Facebook post, Mr Ravi wrote:
“Just saw this on Mandai crematorium website!
It’s so heartbreaking to see the amount of effort made to completely erase a person.Not only does the Roman Catholic Prison Ministry not want anyone to know the information on the funeral services but also does not want any friends of Chijioke to mourn for him and show their last respect. It’s like they want to make it like he never existed at all.
Even his name is spelt wrongly on the list….almost signifying that judicial errors are inevitable but death penalty is irreversible!
Rest in Peace Chijioke : Om Shanthi”
Chijoke’s younger brother has confirmed that neither he nor the Obioha family had expressed any desire to RCPM to keep the details of the funeral ‘confidential.’ He also said that it was RCPM’s decision not to disclose details of the funeral was ‘wicked’