Zainab Aliyu, the Nigerian girl arrested in Saudi Arabia for alleged drug trafficking, has been released by the Saudi authority, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Sulaiman, announced yesterday.
She was released to the Nigerian Mission in Saudi Arabia yesterday.
The official also announced that Ibrahim Abubakar, who was arrested for drug-related crime will be released by the Saudi government.
Zainab Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, who travelled for Lesser Hajj in December 2018, was detained in the holy land for allegedly being in possession of banned substance.
But, the permanent secretary, who was full of joy at a news conference, said that Abubakar would “be released to the mission in the in the next couple of hours.”
Sulaiman posited that the ministry made great efforts to establish the innocence of the Nigerians.
He said: “I am pleased to inform you that in the last few minutes ago the girl and the gentleman have been released.
“I am happy to announce to you that in the last couple of minutes Zainab is with our mission in Saudi and we believe that the other gentle man would be released before tomorrow.
“Because by the time they were able to get his file, it was a closing hour and before they get to his location where he is being kept, it was already late.”
Sulaiman said their release was as a result of intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigerian Government and Saudi Arabia.
He also noted that the government mounted pressure to secure their releases.
Sulaiman said: “We piled up pressure of interventions and there have been discussions at various levels between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi authorities.
“All available diplomatic channels to secure her release were used. In addition to that, our ministry in conjunction with the mission in Saudi has been able to bring to the attention of Saudi the level of innocence of these people.
“We have engaged in other diplomatic ways, we have written several note verbal, we have also from here sent the same note to the Saudi Embassy here and the consulate in Kano.
“We have several intervention and various discussions between the minister of foreign affairs and attorney general of the federation on this same issue.
“We have passed documents relating to the trial of the suspects that were arrested in Kano; we have also passed same information of the judicial process.”
Sulaiman said that the news of Zainab’s release was heart-warming to the Federal Government and members of her family.
He said that investigations by the Nigerian authorities revealed that a drug cartel in Nigeria packaged drugs in her luggage, which led to her arrest.
Sulaiman added that the drug culprits had been arrested and will be prosecuted.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to intervene in the case of the student and others detained in Saudi Arabia.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, gave the hint in a statement by her Media Aide, Mr. Abdur-Rahman Balogun.
The statement read: “President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive immediately the matter was brought to his attention about two weeks ago.
“My office has been working with the AGF as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that regard,” she said.
The Presidential aide assured that progress was being made in Zainab’s case along with two others held in similar circumstances in Saudi Arabia.
“Zainab, although detained, had not been put on trial by the Saudi Arabia government.
“And with the hard evidence that those who implicated her have been arrested, a strong legal case is being made to the Saudi authorities,” she said.
Zainab’s father, Mr. Habib Aliyu, had appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in her daughter’s case and save the ‘innocent’ lady from being executed wrongly.
He also called on the Saudi authorities and the international community as well as well-meaning individuals to intervene.
Zainab’s father had expressed displeasure over his daughter’s arrest and detention in a Saudi Prison in spite of the recent discovery that she was framed by some drug cartel.
He had explained that the allegations of Zainab entering the country with Tramadol was absolute falsehood as recent events and arrests had confirmed the girl’s innocence.
Zainab had travelled from Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in company of her mother, Mrs Maryam Aliyu, and sister Hajara Aliyu.
She was later arrested over allegations that a luggage, bearing her name tag, contained the unlawful substance.
Zainab, who was accused of entering Saudi Arabia with an illegal dose of Tramadol was later discovered to be a victim of a cartel that specialised in keeping hard drugs in travellers’ bags.
According to the statement, some members of the drug cartel, are already in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).