Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Zainab Aliyu, the Nigerian lady who was detained in Saudi Arabia over drug-related offence has been released by the Saudi Arabian authorities.
Aliyu, according to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, was released to the Nigerian Mission in Saudi Arabia.
The release of Aliyu is a sequel to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to immediately intervene in the case.
The ordeal of Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, began when she travelled from the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, and was arrested in Saudi Arabia for being in possession of tramadol.
Aliyu’s father, Habib Aliyu, had appealed to the Nigerian and Saudi Arabian governments and the international community to intervene in her daughter’s case.
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.
Suleiman added that the Federal government made very fruitful efforts to establish the innocence of Aliyu and another Nigerian, Ibrahim Abubakar, who is billed to be released Wednesday (today).
Abubakar, Suleiman added, was not released because the authorities got to his detention centre during close of work.
“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.
Suleiman further 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.
Suleiman also said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs deployed all available diplomatic channels to ensure the release of the duo of Aliyu and Abubakar.
“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 further said.
An elated Suleiman also said the development was cheering to the Nigerian Government and the family of Aliyu.
He added that investigations by the Nigerian authorities revealed that a drug cartel in Nigeria packaged drugs in her luggage, which led to the arrest, even as he said the drug culprits had been arrested and would be prosecuted.