Relative of executed Ugandan speaks out

Ms Mariam Nabanja, Ham Andrew Ngobi’s widow, tells the media she still does not believe her husband was involved in drug trafficking but was rather framed. She also appeals to the government to help the family get ashes of her cremated husband’s body for a decent burial.

Thursday July 3 2014

Ugandan executed in China

Ms Mariam Nabanja (R), the widow of the Ugandan (Ham Andrew Ngobi) executed in China and her sister Emily Nyakato display pictures of the deceased at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Kampala yesterday. photo by Stephen Wandera 

By Andrew Bagala

Kampala-The mood was dark at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday as relatives of one of the two Ugandan men recently executed in China were brought to speak to journalists.

The widow of one of two Ugandans executed in China for carrying illegal drugs yesterday narrated a simple, short but heart-breaking account of how her husband spent his final moments.

Slightly more than a week ago, Ham Andrew Ngobi knew he was in his final hours on earth; it emerged from her story told to journalists in Kampala yesterday.

He asked a Ugandan diplomat who was with him in a Chinese courtroom to allow him use his phone to talk to his wife, Mariam Nabanja, in Kampala. The diplomat accepted.

“I am in the last court. If you don’t hear from me again, know that I am dead,” Ngobi told Ms Nabanja “Be firm. I love you so much.” “Those were the last words I heard from him at 3am on June 23,” Ms Nabanja said yesterday at a press conference.

Ngobi was executed on June 24, 2014 and thereafter his body was cremated. He was the second Ugandan to be executed in China this year after Omar Ddamulira’s hanging on May 21.

Both young men were part of 23 other Ugandans convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in China. Between them, it is reported that they were arrested while in possession of up to 43kg of cocaine.

Going through a range of emotions, Ms Nabanja revealed how Ngobi, 39, left for China on October 8, 2010 for what would be his third and final trip with his uncle, ostensibly to buy garments to be resold in Uganda.

Almost four months later, on January 30, 2011, he telephoned Nabanja to tell her about the developments.

“He told me that business was going on well and he had even got a new job but said he would come back soon,” Ms Nabanja recalled.

Ngobi never called again nor did he come back. She got worried and made rounds to different family friends, asking if they had heard from her husband. Nobody had heard anything.

“In October 2011, I went to Interpol offices in Kampala to find out. They failed to get him, so I proceeded to Foreign Affairs who crosschecked with their counterparts in China,” she said.

It was after she got in touch with Foreign Affairs that the sad news was broken. Ngobi had been jailed for trafficking in illegal drugs.

Mr Paul Mukubya, a Ugandan diplomat, followed up Ngobi’s case and once in a while when he appeared in court, he would call Kampala for Ms Nabanja to talk to her husband.

“He would give me hope that he was to be given a lighter sentence. At one time he told me that his Nigerian friends were released after their government intervened,” she said.

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