Exclusive: Why Zainab Aliyu, other Nigerian pardoned by Saudi are yet to return home
London, May 3, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The arrival of Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubarka, the two Nigerians recently pardoned by the Saudi Arabian authorities over alleged drug peddling is being held up because of official pardon letter from Saudi authorities Alternativeafrica,com can exclusively report
A reliable Foreign ministry official told Alternativeafrica.com that everything concerning their movement back home has been perfected. except the official pardon letter. “They have been cleared of all charges, they have been released to the Nigerian consulate, but we need the official pardon letter for their rest of mind. Our source said
Continuing the source said “you know they are Muslims, and as such they may want to return to Saudi for Humrah, lesser hajj or for hajj pilgrimage so we don’t want anything to hinder their movement or that will keep flagging up as fugitive. That letter is so important”
But the source said everything possible is been done to ensure that the two arrive as early as possible and be reunited with their families “We are looking at this weekend or early next week as the least. Its that close. They have suffered enough for something they did not do”
Consulate-General of Nigeria in Jeddah says it is currently processing travel documents for the two individuals to facilitate their return to home
Zainab Aliyu, a Nigerian student who travelled for Lesser Hajj with her mother was arrested by Saudi Security Officials on Dec. 26, 2018, in a hotel in Madinah.
Another passenger, Ibrahim Abubakar who also travelled on the same aircraft as Zainab but unrelated was also arrested on the same day They were accused of possessing bags containing illicit drugs purportedly bearing a tag with their name.
Meanwhile the Foreign Affairs Ministry has released a detailed statement on how Nigerian government secured the release of Zainab and Ibrahim from Saudi detentionT
Acting Spokesperson for the Ministry, Mr Friday Akpan, on Thursday in Abuja said its silent diplomatic efforts coupled with the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari facilitated the early resolution of the matter
While explaining further its efforts on the release of the two Nigerians, the ministry stated that on receipt of the information on their arrest, the Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah intervened.
It stated that Nigerian Mission in Saudi then requested for full investigation to ascertain the innocence of Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar.
“Investigations conducted by the Airport Authorities and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Kano discovered a drug cartel at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, that specialises in planting illicit drugs on innocent travellers without their knowledge.
“It was also discovered that the bag tagged in Zainab’s name was planted by the cartel without her knowledge.
“Following the arrest of members of the cartel, the Federal Government is currently prosecuting the suspects in the Federal High Court, Kano.
“The outcome of the investigation and subsequent trial of the suspects confirmed the innocence of the two Nigerians.
“The Consulate General of Nigeria in Jeddah, upon instruction from Headquarters, therefore sent series of Diplomatic Notes to the Saudi Foreign Ministry informing of the arrest of members of the syndicate in Kano and forwarding the report of the NDLEA investigation and court proceeding.”
It stated that investigation documents were forwarded to the Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah to further support the innocence of the two Nigerians and also resolve the issue of luggage tag numbers.
According to the ministry, following these efforts, officials in the Consulate secured appointment and met with the Director General of the Saudi Foreign Ministry, Jeddah.
It said that the DG then requested the official in the consulate to forward the NDLEA report to all concerned Saudi agencies with a view to releasing Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar.
“All these processes followed were consistent with the usual diplomatic channel of engagement.
“To maintain the diplomatic pressure, another Note was sent by our Embassy in Riyadh conveying the same message to the Saudi Authorities.
“On April 26, a Note was also sent to both the Saudi Embassy in Abuja and its Consulate in Kano, forwarding court documents relating to the trial of members of the Kano syndicate,” it stated.
It added that the Legal Adviser of the Saudi Foreign Ministry confirmed that relevant agencies and departments in Saudi Arabia were going to meet to consider all the Notes Verbal and reports submitted by Nigeria.
This, it stated, was to facilitate early resolution of the case of Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar.
The ministry added that the judicial and legal process in Nigeria alos provided the critical documentation that aided the diplomatic efforts to establish the innocence of both Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar.
It stated that the Consulate-General of Nigeria in Jeddah is currently processing travel documents for the two individuals to facilitate their return to Nigeria.
The Ministry commended the Saudi Government, through its Embassy in Abuja and officials of Saudi Foreign Ministry, for cooperating with Nigeria in the eventual resolution of the matter
Additional information from NAN