Following the execution of a Nigerian woman on Monday in Saudi Arabia for drug-related offences, the presidency has described the execution as pathetic and tragic.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who disclosed this to State House correspondents, said she will be the eighth Nigerian to be executed in Saudi Arabia for drug-related offences in the last three years.
According to him, there are 20 more on death row for the same offence, 12 have been sentenced for various jail terms in that country.
She said it has been established that there are cases of airlines working hand-in-hand with drug syndicates to put those drugs in the bags of unsuspecting pilgrims.
She said, “so we have had cases where truly they didn’t commit the offence. We have appealed to the Saudi Authorities to make the trials fair, open and ensure that justice is done. Even if you are going to die, you will know that you die for an offence you committed.
“So, while we appeal to Nigerians going to Saudi Arabia, we know it is tough, obey the laws of the land. Even kolanut is treated as a drug. So we will continue to appeal to the Saudi Authorities to treat some of the cases with some form of leniency.
Like I said, we have 20 of them in Saudi, this is the eighth to be executed and we are hopeful that maybe we will be able to save the others. So, it is pathetic, it is tragic but we will continue to appeal to Nigerians to obey the laws of the land where you are. However, we expect the trial to be fair, open and ensure that justice truly is done because somebody is sentenced to death.”
She also described as disgraceful the arrest of five Nigerians, for allegedly robbing a bureau de change in Sharjah of Dh2.3 million.
Dabiri-Erewa said the men were a disgrace and an embarrassment to the country, themselves and their families.
She listed their names as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozo, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Nwonka, Tochukwu Leonard Arise, and Chile Micah Ndumodu.
“These five boys are a disgrace to this country and an embarrassment. So if UAE decides to be hard on Nigerians then we will complain that they are hard on us. But we will continue to say that one bad apple should not spoil the whole bunch. Nigerians are hardworking, intelligent so these few should not spoil the whole bunch because this has made news all over the UAE now.
“We are going to continue to name those who disgrace the country anywhere in the world and we will continue to appeal to Nigerians to be good ambassadors wherever they find themselves.”
On efforts being made to educate pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia following the connivance of some airlines with drugs syndicates, Dabiri-Erewa, said, “Since this law came into force where you ensure baggage are identified, it has reduced. The case I am talking about happened between 2016-2017. So it is important you identify your bags, take responsibility for your luggage. The Hajj Commission is also working with these airlines to ensure this is done because we do not want an innocent person to be jailed for an offence he or she did not commit.
Asked if the Nigerian government is going to write a letter of protests to the Saudi Arabia authorities, the presidential aide said, “we have been doing that. The Nigerian consulate in Saudi Arabia has been talking to Saudi Arabia authorities but I think we need to take it to a higher level now, I mean with 20 on death row, this is the eighth to be killed, we need to engage with the Saudi Arabia authorities more than we have done in the past. With 20 Nigerians on death row, we may be able to save those who did not carry out the crime.
We know that drug issues in Saudi Arabia carry the death penalty, but we will continue to ensure that we intervene properly on behalf of all our citizens to be sure that at least justice has been done.”