Fed Govt rejoices over Zainab Aliyu’s release
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama yesterday expressed Nigeria’s appreciation to Saudi Arabian authority for releasing Zainab Aliyu, who was held for alleged drug trafficking offence.
Miss Aliyu, a student of the Maitama Bello University, Kano, and Ibrahim Abubakar, who were erroneously accused of importing banned substances to Saudi Arabia, were found to have been implicated by a syndicate at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), in Kano.
Reacting to the release, Onyeama said his ministry had engaged the Saudi Arabian authorities in a quiet diplomacy to secure the release of the two Nigerians.
He said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been conducting a very quiet diplomacy with the Saudi authorities for some time now. We provided them with documentation and this has obviously led to the release.
“It also shows the benefit of quiet diplomacy, which has been conducted as opposed to conducting our foreign affairs on twitter and other social media. So, we are very happy that quiet diplomacy has proven its worth.
“In this case, we know this is an innocent Nigerian who some criminals had planted drugs in her name.”
Miss Aliyu is a Nigerian student who was detained in Saudi Arabia after hard drugs was found in a bag labelled in her name at the Saudi airport.
The Federal Government said that Miss Zainab was a victim of a drug cartel at the MAKIA.
The cartel is reported to specialise in placing hard drugs in bags owned by travellers while on their way to destination countries.
On the execution of another Nigerian, Mrs. Kudirat Afolabi in Saudi Arabia for alleged drug smuggling, Mr. Onyeama denied the allegations that his ministry failed to do something to avert the killing.
He said: “It was unfortunate that there was another case, a couple of weeks ago, where a Nigerian lady was executed in Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling.
“Some people were very unfair, giving the impression that the ministry was somehow responsible for the execution of this lady, because she was innocent. Of course, that was not true. It was unfortunate the false narrative that was created.
“In that case, unlike this case, that lady was found with drugs. They want to make it look like the same case as the present case.”