Nigerians have hailed the federal government following the release of Zainab Aliyu, the Nigerian lady who was detained in Saudi Arabia over drug-related offence.
Zainab's release, which has also attracted a trending reaction from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), was as a result of diplomatic engagements between the federal government and the Saudi Arabian government, a report by The Sun has shown.
According to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, Zainab was released to the Nigerian Mission in Saudi Arabia.
The release is a sequel to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, to immediately intervene in the case.
How Zainab's ordeal began
Zainab is reportedly a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano. Her ordeal started when she travelled from the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, and was arrested in Saudi Arabia for being in possession of Tramadol.
After the arrest, Zainab’s father, Habib Aliyu, appealed to the Nigerian and Saudi Arabian governments and the international community to intervene in her daughter’s case.
President Buhari intervenes
Upon Aliyu's appeal, President Buhari directed the AGF and minister of justice to immediately intervene in the case.
How the Nigerian government secured Zainab's release
Briefing journalists in Abuja, Suleiman, said the release of Aliyu was realised after intense diplomatic engagements between the federal government and the Saudi Arabian government.
Ambassador Suleiman said that the federal government made very fruitful efforts to establish Zainab's innocence.
He said that the government sent several note verbale to the Saudi Embassy in Abuja and its Consulate in Kano over the matter.
“We piled up the pressure of interventions and there have been discussions at various levels between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi authorities,” Suleiman added.
He added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs deployed all available diplomatic channels to ensure Zainab's 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 the 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 verbale to the Saudi embassy here and the consulate in Kano.
“We have several interventions and various discussion 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,” Suleiman said.
Obviously elated, Suleiman said the development was cheering to the Nigerian government and Zainab's family.
The ambassador further said that another Nigerian, Ibrahim Abubakar, was also wrongly detained and will also be soon released.
Abubakar, Suleiman added, was not released because the authorities got to his detention centre during close of work.
He is reportedly billed to be released on Wednesday, May 1.
“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 is being kept, it was already late,” Suleiman said.
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Why Saudi Arabia detained and eventually agreed to release Zainab
Zainab was arrested and detained by Saudi Arabia over drug-related offence. However, the Saudi government eventually released her after investigations by the Nigerian authorities revealed that a drug cartel in Nigeria packaged drugs in her luggage.
Suleiman said the drug culprits had been arrested and would be prosecuted.
Amnesty International and Nigerians across various social media platforms have also reacted to the release of Zainab.
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