Nigeria has reacted to the execution of a Nigerian in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for drug trafficking, saying it wa s pathetic, tragic and sad.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri, who briefed State House correspondents on the issue on Tuesday, also appealed for fair trials of Nigerians suspected of involvement in drug-related offences.
“The news of the execution of a Nigerian in Saudi Arabia for drug-related offences is pathetic, tragic and sad.
“We know that drug issues in Saudi Arabia attract a death penalty—that will be the 8th Nigerian to be executed for drugs in Saudi in the last few years—and we have about 20 on death row for drugs in Saudi Arabia.
“We have about 12 that have been sentenced to various jail terms,” she said.
Mrs. Dabiri said that the issue with drugs in Saudi Arabia has to do with syndicates who work with airlines to put drugs in the bags of unsuspecting pilgrims.
“In particular and this is a fact; Ethiopian airlines and Egyptian airlines; when you get there, you see something in your bag;
“So, it is now mandatory for these airlines for all you travelling, ensure that you do your bag check; identify your bag before you board.
“So, it is important that when you are going to Saudi Arabia on any of these airlines, identify your bag; know that this is your bag because we have had many cases of when you get to Saudi Arabia, and they just knock on your door and say something was found in your bag.
“In these airlines, it is now mandatory to do baggage identification before you board some of these passengers.
“So, the case of Saudi is particularly worrisome because some of them really did not commit the crime.
“So, we are appealing to the Saudi authorities to make the trials fair, open and ensure that justice is done.
“Even if you are going to die, you die for an offence you committed,” she explained.
She said there have been cases where some pilgrims committed the offences, but appealed to the Saudi authorities to subject such suspects to open and fair trials.
The presidential aide said that there have been interventions by the Nigerian mission in Jeddah on the cases of Nigerians cut in the web of drug offences, leading to the recent release of one Nigerian.
“It turned out that he actually did not carry the drug and he was freed. One again has a court case and the embassy is intervening on his behalf and hopefully he too will be freed,” she said.
Dabiri said the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia also monitors the trial of Nigerians in the kingdom, but pointed out that Saudi was a bit of a difficult place and does not allow officials of the embassy to visit the prisons and see Nigerians on trial.
“So, the embassy is continuously requesting to at least go to the prison and see Nigerians on the death row and those that have been sentenced for various offences.
“We need to engage more with Saudi authorities and ensure that we do whatever we can to ensure that we do whatever we can for these citizens of Nigeria.
“While we condemn drug trafficking in any ramification, let’s ensure we get justice for everyone of them.”
Raid in Dubai
Mrs. Dabiri also spoke on the reported case of Nigerians who raided a Bureau de Change in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, describing it as “disgraceful; it is an embarrassment to the country; to themselves and their families.”
She gave the names of the suspects captured on CCTV as Chimuanya Ozoh, Benjamin Ajah, Kingsley Ngoka, Tochukwu Alisi and Chile Ndunagu.
“Nigerians are hardworking, intelligent, Nigerians all over the world; these few should not spoil the whole bunch because this has made news all over the UAE;
“We are going to continue to name those people who disgrace Nigeria all over the world and we appeal to Nigerians to continue to be good ambassadors of this country wherever they find themselves.”
On the xenophobic killings in South Africa, Mrs. Dabiri said the recent incidents in the country affected more of Malawians.
“I’m sure you heard the President of South Africa when he came here. It is an embarrassment to South Africa itself. It’s not something they are happy about. He says everything must be done to curb it and a lot of awareness must be put in place.
“The second case in South Africa is Nigerians killing Nigerians. We have Nigerians taking cult and drug wars to South Africa. So, the last killing of a Nigerian was by a fellow Nigerian. They have names for the various cult groups and they are drug related.
“You cannot take that to another man’s country and expect that they will not be angry with you. So, for Nigerians killing Nigerians in South Africa, again, that is another disgraceful act and the Nigerian community in South Africa must get involved.
“Faith based organizations know them, they live among them. Remember the one that happened in Anambra; it’s still a fall out of that, ” Mrs Dabiri explained.
She added that the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari had led to four policemen being charged in South Africa for killing some Nigerians.