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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria HURIWA is happy about the unprecedented foreign policy millstone achieved in one instance by the current administration in the area of effective intervention which culminated in the reported release of a Nigerian citizen Miss Zainab Aliyu- a Kano State born pilgrim in whose travelling bags suspected hard drugs were planted by some airport workers.

It is remarkable to state that this small but significant landmark in area of foreign affairs which was secured from the Saudi Arabian government is something that must be celebrated.

First and foremost, Saudi Arabia is a hardcore religious conservative political entity that does not tolerate drug trafficking of any dimension. It must also be noted that Saudi Arabia is one amongst the three most notorious global executioners of suspects which includes North Korea and China in over a decade. It recently executed a Nigeria and about about four dozen others.

So for a government to secure the release of a citizen whose fate was hanging precariously like a sword of Damocles from a country that is notorious for being absolutely intolerant of drug offenses/drug offenders is definitely a remarkable achievement that must be celebrated across all party lines. Government must show that it did not achieve this because the victim is from the Northern region of Nigeria. Questions of why similar cases were never attended to needed to be answered with clarity.

Aside the seemingly political Pyrrhic victory attendant in this instant case, there is a fundamental need for Nigerian Government to intensify campaigns against drug trafficking, human trafficking and all sorts of social menace that threatens the corporate/public image of Nigeria globally.

We must however warn that this shouldn’t be a one off case in which the government will go back to sleep believing that it has achieved so much, it must however be drummed  into tbe ears of top federal foreign affairs and affiliate government officials that the job of re-branding the damage of global public perception of Nigeria has not started. This Zainab Aliyu’s scenario is only but a preamble and a foundation upon which our foreign policy enforcers should endeavor to carry out a sustainable and consistent evidence-based campaign to get our citizens to comply with global best practices in all their foreign travel transactions. We must wage a determined war against drug and human trafficking and other forms of organised crimes that have tarnished the international image of Nigeria.

Also Zainab Aliyu’s case has shown that there is serious danger in our airports and that security at  our airports can be breached seamlessly by unscrupulous elements who have found a new franchise of trafficking hard drugs through travelling bags of innocent travelers.

Nigeria have to declare a state of security emergency to flush out those hooligans who are already embedded within the official hierarchy of the airports staff and management. The handling of travelling bags must be done professionally and CCTVS must operate 24/7 at all our airports to watch out for these criminals working as staff in the airports. Enough is enough”.

Specifically, the Zainab Aliyu’s case is an eye opener, however we commend the foreign affairs ministry for this totally impressive effort.

Recall that the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, has said that the Federal Government has secured the release of a Nigerian student, Zainab Habibu, who was detained in Saudi on suspicion of drug trafficking.

Zainab, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, was arrested after a banned drug, Tramadol, was found in her bag. She claimed it was planted in her luggage by unknown persons.

The student had travelled from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in company with her mother, Mrs. Maryam Aliyu, but she was arrested over allegations that a bag bearing her name tag contained the unlawful substance.

Zainab, who was accused of entering Saudi Arabia with an illegal dosage of Tramadol, was later discovered to be a victim of a cartel that specialised in keeping hard drugs in travellers’ bags, some of whom were already in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Monday said Buhari had directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to immediately intervene in her case.

Taking to his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday @BashirAhmaad, the President’s aide had tweeted Zainab’s freedom:

The Federal Government has secured the release of Zainab Habibu Aliyu who was arrested in Saudi Arabia for alleged drug trafficking. Details soon from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. #FreeZainab

— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) April 30, 2019

Just about the same time the Presidency tweeted Zainab’s release, the Senate had, at plenary on Tuesday, stated that Senate President Bukola Saraki had announced senators Kabiru Gaya, Abdullahi Adamu, Aliyu Wamakko, Sam Egwu, Baba Kaka, Monsurat Sunmonu and himself as members of an ad-hoc committee to investigate the matter of Zainab Aliyu.

Signed by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; National Coordinator; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

A press statement from HURIWA.

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