Why we won’t allow Zainab Aliyu’s case swept under carpet, by Senate
• Court grants speedy trial of suspects
The Senate yesterday resolved to prosecute the cartel responsible for planting illicit drugs in the luggage of Zainab Aliyu and others at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, expressing concern that their action could have led to execution of some innocent Nigerians.
Aliyu and the other affected passengers would have been executed in foreign countries for offence they did not commit but for the intervention of the Federal Government that ordered investigation into the matter.
Following a motion sponsored by Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) on the need to strengthen security at the nation’s airports, the senate unanimously resolved to ensure the case is pursued to its logical end with those found culpable punished to serve as deterrent to others who are in the habit of putting the lives of innocent Nigerians on the line.
The lawmakers urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other relevant agencies to ensure all presumed on duty be held accountable.They also urged the committee on aviation when constituted to ensure legislative compliance.
FAAN was mandated to ensure installation and effective use of CCTV cameras and other security systems in all Nigerian airports for the purpose of monitoring the environments to check planting of illicit drugs and other illegal activities. The agency was directed to allow only accredited personnel on duty in restricted areas of the airports.
Presenting the motion, Oloriegbe noted with great concern the report in a national daily on lst of May, 2019 on how Aliyu, a Nigerian, was arrested by Saudi Drug Enforcement Agency on allegation of drugs trafficking.
According to him, another online media also reported, quoting the chief press secretary to the Zamfara State governor, on the 18th June, 2019 the effort of the governor to meet with officials of the Saudi Arabia government to discuss the release of another victim, Alaramma Ibrahim who was in detention for almost two years over alleged drug trafficking and whose arrest also followed an alleged frame-up initiated from the Mallam Aminu Kano
International Airport, Kano.
Oloriegbe said that investigations revealed that there are several other incidents of arrests of innocent Nigerians by the Saudi government and other countries on allegations of drugs trafficking.
According to him, “the arrested Nigerians are just victims of circumstances as many of the distasteful situations would have been curtailed but for security lapses at the Nigerian airports infiltrated by drug syndicates with easy access to plant illicit drugs on innocent travellers or their belongings without their knowledge.”
Oloriegbe said Aliyu and the two other Nigerians were saved from execution by the Saudi government because of the prompt intervention of the Nigerian government after investigations proved they had no knowledge of the drugs in their luggage.He accused personnel of FAAN, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Police, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and other aviation agencies of dereliction of duties that make the airports unsafe.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said: “I had the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj and during my trip I was able to engage the embassy personal in Saudi Arabia.“We held discussions on what happened on the issue of Zainab Aliyu and the other person from Zamfara, Alarama, who were arrested.
The story was very pathetic and I decided that we must take every action, that those responsible for planting those illicit drugs in their bags are prosecuted.“So this motion is apt, it is timely and this senate will go ahead to pursue this case to its logical conclusion.”
Meanwhile, Justice Lewis Allagoa of the Federal High Court sitting in Kano has granted the prayers of the NDLEA for speedy trial of an allegation of conspiracy leveled against six airport handlers in respect of the Aliyu’s case.
The judge had earlier turned down an oral application by the prosecution which sought the court to compel the six defendants to submit their international passports to the court’s registrar.
Counsel to NDLEA, Femi Oloruntoba, insisted the request became pertinent to prevent the accused persons from traveling abroad without the consent and permission of the court.
The defendants accused of planting dangerous substance on Aliyu’s bag are facing three count-charge bordering on conspiracy, export of illicit drugs and trafficking of unwanted substance to Saudi Arabia.The charges predicated on the arrest and subsequent detention of Aliyu by Saudi Arabia authorities who discovered a large chunk of illicit substance in her luggage on arrival at the kingdom.The court has adjourned the matter to 14th and 15th of October, 2019, for hearing.
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