Abike Dabiri-Erewa

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for facilitating the release of two Nigerians arrested in Saudi Arabia.

Zainab Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, who embarked on Lesser Hajj in Dec. 2018, was detained by the Saudi Arabia authorities for allegedly being in possession of banned substances.

Ibrahim Abubakar, another Nigerian, was also detained by Saudi authority for alleged drug-related offence.

However, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Sulaiman, on Tuesday in Abuja announced the release of the two Nigerian detainees by Saudi authority

Dabiri-Erewa, who gave the commendation in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said Buhari’s timely intervention saved the two Nigerians from being punished for offence they did not commit.

“We thank God and thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his immediate intervention.

“When we brought the matter to him about two weeks ago, he immediately directed the Attorney General of the Federation to ensure Zainab and Ibrahim were released.

“All I can say is, I am happy that this young promising girl did not get punished for an offense she did not commit,” she said.

The presidential aid, however, expressed concern over the authority’s was handling of case of the suspects, who allegedly planted banned substances in Zainab’s bag at the airport.

“My worry is that those who set her up are now on bail. NDLEA must ensure prosecution of those culpable.

“Egypt Air and Ethiopian Air must ensure compulsory baggage identification of passengers.

“All the cases we have had so far have involved only those two airlines. Security surveillance at our airports must also be strengthened,” she said

The permanent secretary had said that the release was as a result of intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

He said that the ministry made great effort to establish their innocence.

Suleiman noted that the government had raised several note verbal with the Saudi Embassy in Abuja and their Consulate in Kano over the matter.

He said that the news of her release was heartwarming to the government and Zainab’s family.

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