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The Federal Government on Tuesday faulted the execution of a Nigerian woman on Monday by Saudi Arabia authorities for alleged drug related offenses.
The Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said that two Pakistani men, a Yemeni man and a Nigerian woman were executed on Monday for drug trafficking, bringing to 53 the number of people put to death this year alone.
The Nigerian government described the news of the execution as pathetic, tragic and sad, stressing some airlines have been working with drug syndicates to put such drugs in the bags of unsuspecting passengers.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, while speaking with State House correspondents, noted that the woman executed is the eighth Nigerian to be executed in Saudi Arabia for drug related offenses in the last three years.
According to her, there are 20 more on death row for the same offense while 12 have been sentenced for various jail terms in the country.
She said it has been established that there are cases of airlines working hand-in hand with 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.
The men were caught on camera barging into the exchange and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.
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, Toochukwu Leonard Arise and Chile Micah Ndumodu.
“These five boys are a disgrace to this country and an embarrassment. So if UAE decide 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,” she added
Speaking on efforts 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 baggages 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.”
On whether the Nigerian government will protest to the Saudi Arabia authorities, she 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 carried 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.
“While we condemn drug trafficking in all ramification, let’s ensure we get justice for every Nigerian.”