Zainab, Abubakar freed in Saudi Arabia on federal government’s intevention
• CAN, others commend FG, call for Leah Sahribu’s release
The Federal Government has secured the release of Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar who were arrested in Saudi Arabia over alleged drug trafficking.Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sulaiman Mustapha, said in Abuja yesterday that the government established the innocence of Zainab and Abubakar, assuring that they will be released today to the Nigerian Mission in Saudi Arabia.
Sulaiman said their release resulted from intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigerian government and the Saudi authorities.He, however, noted that the drug culprits had been arrested and would be prosecuted.Zainab and Abubakar had been arrested on December 26, 2018 after tramadol, a prohibited drug was found in their bags.
The 22-year-old Zainab, who is a student of the Maitama Sule University, Kano had travelled to Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj with her mother and sister through the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.On arrival in Medina, the Saudi Police arrested her over allegations that her bag contained tramadol. Her arrest had led to the discovery of an alleged drug cartel at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport that reportedly transferred her excess luggage weight to the bag that contained tramadol.
It was reported that the seven-man syndicate specialises in planting banned drugs in travellers’ luggage to export the substances to Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries. With increasing calls from Nigerians for the release of Zainab, President Muhammadu Buhari directed Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to intervene in the case and secure her immediate release and others detained by Saudi Arabia authorities.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in a statement issued by her Media Assistant, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, said Buhari gave the directive immediately the matter was brought to his attention two weeks ago. Dabiri-Erewa assured that progress was being made in Zainab’s case along with two others held in similar circumstances in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern State chapter has commended the Federal Government for facilitating Zainab’s release, stressing that the same urgency with which Zainab was released should be deployed for Laeh Sahribu’s freedom.
In a statement yesterday by its Public Relations Officer, Reverend Joseph Hayab, it said Leah Sharibu, who has been in Boko Haram captivity since last year, also deserved to be rescued, noting that President Buhari should treat all Nigerians equally, irrespective of their religious creed.