A Life Spared Hanging

In the month of March in 2014, AI Malaysia learned of a Nigerian national Osariakhi Obayangbon (aka Michael Philip), who was less than 72 hours away from being executed in a Malaysian prison. The AI machinery kicked in, and his execution was stopped at the last second in the early hours of Friday.

Three years later, we have now learned that the King of Malaysia has commuted Osariakhi’s sentence to life, and he, who developed schizophrenia on death row, has been spared the death penalty!

A huge thank you to all Human Rights Supporters for every other action that you took to stop this cruelty and save a man’s life.

Below, is an email from Curtis, Osariakhi’s brother, to AI Malaysia.


Dear Shamini

[Executive Director,

Amnesty International Malaysia],

It has been a while! I know you are busy working for humanity and saving lives. I salute your courage and doggedness to the [cause] you have chosen.

When in 2014 Osariakhi was to be put to death, we cried to you at Amnesty International and even though time was against us, you did not give up. You put together a team from that moment that I contacted you and together with Hazel in London and your team in Malaysia, my brother’s life was saved. And you did not only save Osariakhi’s life, you restored hope to the family whose lives would have been shattered and meaningless had the execution been carried out. You did not relent after that, rather, you continued to champion the campaign for the abolition of [the] death sentence. The result of that effort is what we celebrate today; the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment.

The voice of the people is the voice of God. Your organisation [has] spoken against [the] death sentence and God has granted it to Osariakhi and it will be so the world over. Without your organisation, we would have been in grief and sorrow and we would have been devastated. I definitely would not have been able to send my children to school and wouldn’t be smiling back to them today. Thank God that Amnesty International exist[s] so that Osariakhi and others in similar situation might live. By this victory, you have sounded the [death] bell on (the) death sentence and you have reminded those in authority that only God can create and take [life], not humans. Above all, you achieved this[feat] without collecting a dime from us for your good work!

On behalf of Osariakhi, we wish to thank you once again for restoring hope to the hopeless and thank you for those many phone calls at odd hours which you never refused to take. We are very proud of you and your organisation and may you continue to grow from strength to strength.

All the best,

Curtis Obayangbon

(For the family).