The spate of arrest of Nigerians in Saudi Arabia over drug trafficking is currently a major concern for the Nigerian government considering the fact that it is doing more harm than good to what is left of the image of the country globally.
Since the beginning of 2019, there have been reports of Nigerians apprehended within a few Asian countries, of which many of them have claimed innocence of the allegations leveled against them.
Just last month (April 12 precisely), a Nigerian known as Kudira Afolabi, was executed by the Saudi government over drug-related offences, a development that further questioned efforts by the Federal Government to activate its diplomatic relationship to rescue its citizens from the jaws of death.
However, it was cheering news that Zainab Aliyu, has been granted freedom by the Saudi Authority after it investigation revealed that the drugs were planted by unknown persons. This is also a big thumbs-up for President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for ensuring that drastic action was taken to secure her release. The move also aided the Nigeria mission in Saudi to secure the release of another Nigerian, Ibrahim Abubakar that was accused of the same drug related offence.
Recall that Zainab Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, was arrested and detained on December 28, 2018 after a banned drug, Tramadol, was found in her bag, a situation she claimed it was planted in her luggage by unknown persons.
But then, is this enough to assume that the Federal Government has done credibly well knowing fully that there are many Nigerians still suffering same fate in Saudi Arabia prison for an offence they perhaps knew nothing about?
On Tuesday, Senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani in his official twitter handle, commended the efforts of the Federal Government in securing the release of Zainab but warned that they shouldn’t rest on its oars in ensuring that other victims are released.
“Zainab Aliyu; Earlier today, Sen. Kabir Gaya, Sen. Jibril from Kano and myself moved a motion on the issue of Zainab.
“We are glad to hear that the FG finally secured her release. We will still continue to fight for other victims of the set up incarcerated abroad.”
In the same vein, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the efforts made for the release of Zainab Aliyu from Saudi Arabia detention for alleged drug trafficking should be extended to other Nigerians who have been arrested or abducted.
“CAN Northern states rejoices with the parents of Zainab Aliyu and the government of our country for securing her release after she was arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia for allegations of drug trafficking.
“It is sad that many innocent Nigerians are suffering for a crime they know nothing about. This prompt effort by Government is commendable and should be sustained for all and in the future because this is what we want to see from our leaders in this country.
“But as we rejoice about this development, we are also compelled to ask this important question. Are all Nigerians equal or some are more equals than others. We are aware that many innocent Citizens of our country have been arrested, some killed and others are still in detention but we have not heard any directives from Mr. President to his Attorney General to take action about them with this kind of urgency. Does this show that this victim is related to some important people?
“If we want our citizens to be proud of their government and country then we need to show equal concern about what happens to everyone in this country. We cannot also celebrate the release of Zainab and forget Leah Sharibu who did not commit any crime but has been in captivity over a year now.”
There is no doubt that in Saudi Arabia, it has been boldly written at the entrance of their international airport that anyone caught with drugs will automatically face death penalties.
So far, Saudi Arabia has executed 53 people this year alone over such offences and Kudira Afolabi became the eighth Nigerian to be executed. Besides, there are reports that at least 23 Nigerians are on the death row in Saudi Arabia for “drug-related offences”.
Perhaps, the Federal Government must ensure that they engage thoroughly with the Saudi authorities and bid for more time so as to carryout intensive investigation that could prove the innocence of some of the detained Nigerians who are awaiting death penalties.