15 Feb 2007

Nigeria: Speaking Out: Shame, Singapore

Singapore is still rather barbaric...

February 15, 2007
Posted to the web February 15, 2007

Morenike Taire

The contrast is the classic one, which is obviously why it has been explored so widely since the two events. In Lagos, a popular actress of the Yoruba genre was sentenced to a few years in jail with the option of some puny fine for attempting to traffic through the Murtala Mohammed international airport some cocaine. If her destination had been the Asian Singapore and she had been caught, her fate might have been somewhat different as was that of her younger - much younger - compatriot who was recently executed by that State, having been indicted and tried for the possession of heroine.

The controversy surrounding the execution of 19 year old Tochi has also failed to abate. Human rights communities as well as bodies the globe over have decried the manner in which the trial was conducted, and the speed with which the execution was carried out. It is also of concern that, though a young man by international standard, a 19 year old is considered just but a boy in Nigeria, and definitely too young to be executed as a first offender by any standard. Tochi might have breathed a sigh of relief upon escaping NDLEA in whatever Nigerian airport he passed through, assuming that indeed he had been a willing courier. It has been argued that, particularly after the fate of Yetunde Wunmi had been determined so expediently and favourably, that Tochi would on hindsight wished this to have been his fate.

While this can at first thought to be neither here nor there on the surface, many genuine questions have arisen from it. There is on one hand those who are complaining that the Wunmi sentence is too light, and that such lenient and seemingly indecisive treatments of drug offenders is the reason that drug abuse and trafficking is on the rise in Nigeria; there is on the other those who are protesting the extreme severity of the Tochi treatment.

Here, as with many other issues, we have yet to take some definite national and traditional stance on the issue of drugs, its trafficking, its internal distribution its (ab)use and the effect of their presence on our communities.

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It is a shame that Singapore, one of the countries so greatly praised for rising so swiftly and so gloriously to 1st World from 3rd World status, is still rather barbaric after all.