If not for the last ditch effort of the Nigerian government, Zainab's case would have ended up like many other Africans who are executed despite their innocence. There are currently about 150 Africans awaiting execution in Saudi prisons. More than 20 are from Nigeria.
Bashir Ahmed, the special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on new media made the disclosure on Tuesday after Zainab was detained by Saudi authorities for alleged drug trafficking.
"The Federal Government has secured the release of Zainab Habibu Aliyu who was arrested in Saudi Arabia for alleged drug
Mustapha Suleiman, permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs, also confirmed the development," Bashir Ahmed said.
He said the government has been able to establish the innocence of Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar, the second Nigerian involved in the case.
Suleiman said they will be released to the Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Aliyu and Abubakar had been arrested on December 26 after tramadol, a banned drug was found in her bag.
The 22-year-old student of the Maitama Sule University in Kano had travelled to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj alongside her mother and sister through the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.
On arrival in Medina, she was arrested by Saudi police authorities over allegations that the bag bearing her name tag 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 bag that contained tramadol.
It was reported that the 7-man syndicate specialise in planting banned drugs in travellers’ luggage to export the substances to Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries.
African foreign affairs ministers and indeed the diplomatic community must call for proper and dilligent investigation before individuals are summarily executed in the Arab country. More importantly, the security apparatus of African countries at the airport must be upgraded to meet international standards and thereby able to detect illegal substances.
Drug syndicates can also be checked by constantly changing guards and sometimes subjecting them to under-cover investigations to observe their compromise or loyalty. With these, we could save more of the likes of Zainab currently on death roll.
Header Image Credit: the pledge.ng