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Nigeria pleads for mercy for nationals on death row in Indonesia

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Chinthu Sukumaran (centre), an unidentified relative (at right wearing white helmet), Michael Chan (second right) and other family members of Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran leave their boat after visiting the two prisoners in Nusakambangan prison island, off Central Java on March 9, 2015. Nigeria on Monday urged Indonesia to spare the lives of three of its citizens facing execution after being convicted of drug trafficking there.

[ABUJA] Nigeria on Monday urged Indonesia to spare the lives of three of its citizens facing execution after being convicted of drug trafficking there.

The three Nigerians are on death row in a country with some of the toughest drug laws in the world, having lost their appeals in Indonesian courts against their convictions.

A senior official in the Nigerian foreign ministry, Danjuma Sheni, conveyed the country's plea for clemency to the Indonesian ambassador to Nigeria, Harry Purwato.

"We... are very aware of the consequences of drug trafficking in your country, but we still want to put it on record and we still want to appeal to you and to your president to temper justice with mercy," Mr Sheni told the envoy during a meeting.

Mr Sheni said Nigeria was aware that the three convicted nationals had gone through Jakarta's judicial process "and their appeals to the president have been turned down."

He added that one of the three, Raheem Agbaje Salami, had been moved to an island and could be executed at "any moment".

"We want to appeal to you and through you to your government that this death sentence that may be carried out on Salami any moment from now should be converted to life imprisonment," said Mr Sheni, the ministry's permanent secretary.

The Indonesian ambassador promised to pass Abuja's plea for mercy on to Jakarta for consideration.

Drug convicts from Australia, France, Brazil, the Philippines and Ghana are also currently facing execution in Indonesia despite repeated appeals for mercy from foreign governments.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, officially still has the death penalty but it is rarely implemented.

The last known executions took place in June 2013 when southern Edo state ignored pleas by Amnesty International and other rights groups and executed by hanging four prisoners convicted of armed robbery or murder.

They were the first such executions in the country in seven years.

Nigeria has for many years been a transit point for the drug trade into and out of west Africa.

More than 8,000 suspected drug traffickers, including women, were arrested across in the country last year, a spokesman of the nation's anti-drug agency, Mitchell Ofoyeju, told AFP.

AFP