Court of Appeal clears Nigerian man of drug trafficking: Twists and turns in 9-year legal saga

SINGAPORE – A 34-year-old Nigerian man has been acquitted of a capital drug trafficking charge after the Court of Appeal reversed its 2015 decision to convict him.

Following a 4-1 split decision, a five-judge panel ruled on Thursday (Sept 17) that its past judgment could no longer stand after new evidence surfaced that Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi was suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) when he lied to narcotics officers in 2011.

The final verdict brings to a close a rare legal case that has seen many twists and turns in the past nine years. Here’s a look at the developments in the case:

Nov 13, 2011: Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi arrives in Singapore from Nigeria with a black suitcase, which he passes to another person.

Nov 14, 2011: Ilechukwu is arrested at his hotel after nearly 2kg of methamphetamine were found in the suitcase.

Nov 5, 2014: Ilechukwu is acquitted of drug trafficking after a High Court trial.

June 29, 2015: Ilechukwu is convicted by the Court of Appeal, which overturns the acquittal following an appeal by the prosecution.

March 6, 2017: A psychiatric report that was prepared for the sentencing states that Ilechukwu was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when his statements were recorded.

April 5, 2017: Ilechukwu files a motion to the Court of Appeal to reopen his case.

Aug 2, 2017: Court of Appeal sends the case back to the High Court to make findings on the effects of PTSD and whether Ilechukwu was suffering from it.

July 5, 2019: High Court finds that Ilechukwu was suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) when his statements were recorded.

Sept 17, 2020: Ilechukwu is cleared after the Court of Appeal reverses his conviction.

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