Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Sulaiman, says Saudi authority has released Nigerian girl, Zainab Aliyu, and another man, Ibrahim Abubakar arrested for alleged drug-related offence.
Zainab Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, who travelled for Lesser Hajj in Dec. 2018 was detained by the Saudi Arabia authorities for allegedly being in possession of banned substance.
The Permanent Secretary, who said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference however said that Abubakar would be released to the mission in the in the next couple of hours.
“I am pleased to inform you that in the last few minutes ago the girl and the gentleman have been released.
“I am happy to announce to you that in the last couple of minutes Zainab is with our mission in Saudi and we believe that the other gentleman will be released before tomorrow.
“Because by the time they were able to get his file, it was closing hour and before they got to his location, where he was being kept, it was already late.’’
Sulaiman said that the release was as a result of intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigerian Government and Saudi Arabia.
He said that the ministry made great efforts to establish their innocence.
Suleiman noted that the government had raised several note verbal with the Saudi Embassy in Abuja and their Consulate in Kano over the matter.
“We piled up pressure of interventions and there has been discussions at various levels between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi authorities,” he said.
He said that the ministry used “all available diplomatic channels to secure her release”.
“In addition to that our ministry in conjunction with the mission in Saudi has been able to bring to the attention of Saudi the level of innocence of these people.
“We have engaged in other diplomatic ways, we have written several note verbal, we have also from here sent the same note to the Saudi embassy here and the consulate in Kano
“We have had several interventions and various discussions between the minister of minister of foreign affairs and attorney general of the federation on this same issue.
“We have passed documents relating to the trial of the suspects that were arrested in Kano; we have also passed same information of the judicial process,” he said.
The permanent secretary said that the news of her release was heartwarming to the Nigerian Government and the family of Zainab Aliyu.
He said that investigations by the Nigerian authorities revealed that a drug cartel in Nigeria packaged drugs in her luggage, which led to her arrest.
He said that the drug culprits had been arrested and would be prosecuted.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to intervene in the case of Nigerian student and others detained by Saudi Arabia Authority.
Mrs Abike Dabiri Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, said this in a statement by her Media Aide, Mr Abdur-Rahman Balogun, on Monday in Abuja.
“President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive immediately the matter
was brought to his attention about two weeks ago.
“My office has been working with the AGF as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that regard,” she said.
The Presidential aide assured that progress was being made in Zainab’s case along with two others held in similar circumstances in Saudi Arabia.
“Zainab, although detained, had not been put on trial by the Saudi Arabia government.
“And with the hard evidence that those who implicated her have been
arrested, a strong legal case is being made to the Saudi authorities,” she
Mr Habib Aliyu, the father of the alleged drug courier, Zainab, had appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in her daughter’s case and save the ‘innocent’ lady from being executed wrongly.
Aliyu also called on the Saudi authorities and the international community as well as well-meaning individuals to intervene.
Zainab’s father had expressed displeasure over his daughter’s arrest and detention in a Saudi Prison in spite of the recent discovery that she was framed by some drug cartel.
He had explained that the allegations of Zainab entering the country with Tramadol was absolute falsehood as recent events and arrests had confirmed the girl’s innocence.
Zainab, had travelled from Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in company of her mother, Mrs Maryam Aliyu, and sister Hajara Aliyu.
She was later arrested over allegations that a luggage bearing her name tag contained the unlawful substance.
Zainab, who was accused of entering Saudi Arabia with an illegal dose of Tramadol was later discovered to be a victim of a cartel that specialised in keeping hard drugs in travelers’ bags.
According to the statement, some members of the drug cartel are already in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.