LAGOS, Nigeria -- Three Nigerian men convicted of illegal possession of cocaine and heroin were publicly executed Wednesday by a military firing squad.
Several thousand people watched the execution outside the Kirikiri maximum security prison.
Police and soldiers had trouble controlling the crowd, drawn by radio and television publicity. Lagos state radio said a number of people fainted when the six-man execution squad fired.
Bartholomew Azubike Owoh, 26, a former employee of the Nigeria Airways, Lawal Akanni Ojuolape, 30, a spare parts dealer, and Bernard Ogedengbe, 29, a sailor, were condemned separately by a military tribunal last December.
Owoh smiled broadly, waved to reporters and prayed in front of the execution stake before he was tied to it, witnesses said.
'If I knew peddling in hard drugs would result in death I would not have done it,' he said.
Ojuolape, convicted of possessing more than 2 pounds of cocaine, also prayed before being tied to the stake.
'I am eating the fruit of my misdeed. ... It was my first time out on the cocaine business but I was caught,' he said.
The executions took 5 minutes to complete. The victims were loaded into rough coffins for burial at Atan cemetery in Lagos.
The three men were the first Nigerians executed under Decree 20 - which makes drug possession and trafficking and illegal dealings in oil punishable by death.
The decree is the result of a crackdown on crime and corruption by the government of Maj. Gen. Mohammed Buhari, which seized power in a coup Dec. 31, 1983. The Buhari government has declared 'war against indiscipline.'