Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama has expressed appreciation to the Saudi Authority for the release of Zainab Aliyu, who was held for alleged drug trafficking offence.
Ms. Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar were erroneously accused of trafficking hard drugs to Saudi Arabia.
Reacting to the release, Onyeama disclosed that the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had engaged the Saudi Arabian authorities in a very quiet diplomacy to secure the release of the two Nigerians.
The minister, in a statement by his media aide, Sarah Sanda further said that the release of Zainab Aliyu by Saudi Authorities is a further sign of the immense goodwill Nigeria enjoys on the global stage under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari whose integrity is widely acknowledged.
The minister, who received the news of the release while on official assignment in Guinea Bissau, noted all diplomatic channels at the highest levels were explored to achieve the desired results.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been conducting a very quiet diplomacy with the Saudi Authorities for some time now, we provided them with documentation and this has obviously led to the release.
“It also shows the benefit of quiet diplomacy which has been conducted as opposed to conducting our foreign affairs on twitter and other social media, so we are very happy that quiet diplomacy has proven its worth.
“In this case we know this is an innocent Nigerian who some criminals had planted drugs in her name.”
Ms. Aliyu is a Nigerian student who was detained in Saudi Arabia after hard drugs was found in a bag labeled in her name at the Saudi Airport.
The federal government said she was a victim of drug cartel at the Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, North West Nigeria.
The cartel is reported to specialise in placing hard drugs in bags owned by travelers while on their way to destination countries. Some members of the cartel have been arrested.
On the execution recently of another Nigerian, Kudirat Afolabi in Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling, Onyeama denied allegations that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to do anything to avert that.
“It was unfortunate that there was another case a couple of weeks ago where a Nigerian lady was executed in Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling.
“Some people were very unfair, giving impression that the Ministry was somehow responsible for the execution of this lady because she was innocent, off course that was not true, it was unfortunate the false narrative that was created.
“In that case unlike this case, that lady was found with drugs, they want to make it look like the same case as the present case.”