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Northern CAN demands Zainab Aliyu’s treatment for Leah Sharibu

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Segun Olaniyi (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
02 May 2019   |   4:15 am
Christians in the 19 northern states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja yesterday cautioned the Federal Government against delay in ensuring the release of Leah Sharibu from Boko Haram insurgents.

Leah Sharibu, one of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls

Christians in the 19 northern states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja yesterday cautioned the Federal Government against delay in ensuring the release of Leah Sharibu from Boko Haram insurgents.

They made the demand after the government succeeded in negotiating the release of Zainab Aliyu who was earlier detained by the Saudi Arabia government over alleged drug trafficking.

In a statement by the Northern CAN Public Relations Officer (PRO), Rev. Joseph John Hayab, the Christians said they rejoiced with the parents of Aliyu and the nation’s government for securing her release.

CAN said: “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 equal 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.”

The statement further queried: “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.

“We therefore appeal to President Buhari to direct his security agencies to double their effort and get Leah released and reunited with her parents. Leah too wants to enjoy the protection of her leaders.”

The northern CAN made the demand as the Federal Government commended Saudi authorities over the release of two Nigerians falsely accused of drug deals.

In a statement issued yesterday by Sarah Sanda, Special Assistant, Media, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the government attributed the country’s prompt response to the immense goodwill Nigeria currently enjoys globally.

Aliyu was released from detention onTuesday with the promise to free Ibrahim Abubakar yesterday.

Onyeama, who was said to have received the news of the release of Zainab while on official assignment in Guinea Bissau, noted that all diplomatic channels were explored to achieve the desired result.

“We would like to thank the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for that decision. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in very quiet diplomacy for sometime now. We have provided them with documentation and this has obviously led to the release which is a very good thing.

“I think it also shows the benefits of quiet diplomacy as opposed to conducting it on twitter and other social media.

“We know this is an innocent Nigerian and some criminals had planted drugs in her name but it was unfortunate that there was a case a couple of weeks ago, where a Nigerian lady was executed in Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling.”

Onyeama condemned an impression that the ministry’s complacency contributed to the execution of Nigerian lady earlier by the country’s authority earlier.

“Unlike this particular case, the lady in question was found with drugs. But they tried to make it look as if it was the same case as this but we in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have tried to focus on the work that we do without trying to promote ourselves in the media. In all, we are very happy that this innocent lady has been released.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged the Federal Government to intensify campaigns against drug trafficking, human trafficking and all sorts of social menace that threaten the public image of Nigeria globally.

The rights group said it was happy about the unprecedented foreign policy milestone achieved in one instance by the current administration in the area of effective intervention which culminated in the reported release of Zainab, a Kano State-born pilgrim in whose travelling bags suspected hard drugs were planted by some airport workers.

The group, however, warned that this shouldn’t be a one off case in which the government will go back to sleep believing that it has achieved so much. “It must however be drummed into the ears of top federal foreign affairs and affiliate government officials that the job of re-branding the damage of global public perception of Nigeria has not started,” HURIWA said in a statement in Abuja yesterday by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko.

“For a government to secure the release of a citizen whose fate was hanging precariously like a sword of Damocles from a country that is notorious for being absolutely intolerant of drug offences/drug offenders is definitely a remarkable achievement that must be celebrated across all party lines.

“Government must show that it did not achieve this because the victim is from the Northern region of Nigeria. Questions of why similar cases were never attended to needed to be answered with clarity.

“We must wage a determined war against drug and human trafficking and other forms of organised crimes that have tarnished the international image of Nigeria.

“Zainab Aliyu’s case has shown that there is a serious danger in our airports and that security at our airports can be breached seamlessly by unscrupulous elements who have found a new franchise of trafficking hard drugs through travelling bags of innocent travellers,” the group said.