Singapore hangs two African "drug dealers"

afrol News, 26 January - Despite protests and appeals for clemency, Singapore authorities this morning went ahead to hand two Africans found guilty of drug dealing in the country. One of the executed is said to be stateless while the other is a 21-year-old Nigerian footballer, Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, living in Singapore.

The men were guilty of trafficking 727 grams of heroin and according to Singaporean law, death penalty hangs on those found with 15 gram of heroin or more. The stateless African, the 35-year-old Okeke Nelson Malachy, was said to be the recipient of Mr Amara's shipped heroin.

A kilo of heroine is said to have cost over US$ 100,000 in the Asian country.

Singapore has the strictest drug laws in the world. From 1991 to date, 420 people - most of them guilty of drug-related offences - have been executed in Singapore, where execution dates are not announced.

Some years back, a Congolese diplomat escaped execution after drugs were found in a bag he was holding for a passenger who disappeared after she had realised that the deal had leaked. His life was saved through the intervention of the passengers travelling with him on the same flight.

Before the execution, Amnesty International, the UN Secretary General and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo have all appealed to the Singaporean Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, to spare the lives of the gentlemen.

In a letter to Prime Minister Loong, the Nigerian President said it would be difficult for Mr Tochi's family to accept the Singaporean position. However, Prime Minister Loong maintained that "we have a duty to safeguard the interests of Singaporeans, and protect the many lives that would otherwise be ruined by the drug syndicates."

Amnesty believed that the judge who convicted Mr Tochi of drug smuggling "appears to have accepted that he might not have realised the substance he was carrying was heroin," which would have been enough reason to spare the boy's life.

Some human rights activists held an overnight vigil outside the prison compound, hanging a football shirt on the wall as a mark of the Nigerian's love for football.

Mr Tochi was arrested at Singapore's airport in November 2004, carrying 727 grams of heroin, according to law officers. Heroin is among the world's most addictive and dangerous drugs.

By staff writer