Zainab Aliyu

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Sulaiman, has confirmed that Saudi authorities have released the Nigerian girl, Zainab Aliyu, and another man, Ibrahim Abubakar, arrested for alleged drug-related offence.

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

The Permanent Secretary, who confirmed her release on Tuesday at a news conference, however said that Abubakar would be released to the mission in the next couple of hours.

“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 gentleman will be released before tomorrow.

“Because by the time they were able to get his file, it was closing hour and before they got to his location, where he was being kept, it was already late.’’

Sulaiman said that the release was as a result of intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigerian government and Saudi Arabia.

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

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

“We piled up pressure of interventions and there has been discussions at various levels between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi authorities,” he said.

He assured that the ministry used “all available diplomatic channels to secure her release”.

“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 had several interventions and various discussions between the minister of 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,” NAN quoted him as saying.

The permanent secretary said that the news of her release was heartwarming to the Nigerian Government and the family of Zainab Aliyu.

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.

He said that the drug culprits had been arrested and would be prosecuted.

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