Fear over 23 Nigerians on death row in Saudi Arabia
JAILED IN SAUDI ARABIA
- Halimat Oyebanjo Oyaya 10yrs
- Sherifat Shawni 4 yrs
- Limata Ahmad 10yrs
- Halimat Isah 5yrs
- Olubumi Adejarani Olaniyan 10yrs
- Omobolanle Funke 15yrs
- Nuratu Bolanle Yusuf 15yrs
- Maryam Ibrahim Tanko 7yrs
- Rahma Abdulkarim 20yrs
- Nuratu Yusuf Abike 20yrs
- Bolaji Kehinde 10yrs
- Yasirat Abolanle Salau – awaiting trial
Twenty-three Nigerians are on the death row in Saudi Arabia. They may be beheaded any time from now, The Nation has learnt.
Besides, 11 are serving various jail terms for drug trafficking in the kingdom. Another suspected trafficker is awaiting trial. The 23 death row inmates could not be named for “diplomatic and sensitivity” reasons.
Unless President Muhammadu Buhari intervenes, the death toll could be higher, a source said. The “late” response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a memo from the Nigerian Consul-General, Amb. M. S. Yunusa, is believed to have contributed to the execution of a Nigerian woman, Kudirat Adeshola Afolabi about two weeks ago.
It was learnt that the ministry had been “diplomatically slow” in responding to issues connected with Nigerians. No ministry official was willing to comment on the allegation yesterday.
One of the memos said: “Furthermore, it is with humility that I bring to the Honourable Minister‘s knowledge that, sadly, there are a number of Nigerians arrested for alleged drug related offence who are currently in detention at Dhahban Prison (Male Section) and Madina Prison (Male & Female Sections). Mission was unable to gain Consular access to them as the host authorities have flatly refused to grant permission for such despite several requests to that effect. “Following the outcome of investigations carried out by both the NDLEA and the Nigeria Police (Kano State Command) the Honourable Minister may wish to note that: “There exists a criminal syndicate collaborating with greedy officials of some airlines at MAKIA, notably Ethiopian and Egyptian Airlines, who connive to check in drug-laden bags, using passenger’s particulars without their consent or knowledge; “Nigerian victims of the activities of these criminal gangs were arrested and detained in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for drug trafficking offences they did not commit; “The outcome of investigations by the Nigeria Police and NDLEA absolved these victims of complicity in the crime of peddling drugs into the Kingdom.
The investigations further established beyond reasonable doubts that the victims were unaware of the drug-laden baggage that were checked in bearing their particulars by unknown persons at MAKIA, Kano; “All the suspected culprits had been apprehended and a case of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and drug trafficking has been established against them, hence, they were arraigned at the Federal High Court, Kano; “There are 24 Nigerians who were condemned to death between 2016 2018 for drug trafficking in contravention of the Kingdom’s Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Control Law issued under Decree No. M/39 dated 8/7/1428AH; “There are 12 Nigerian women currently serving various jail terms at Dhahban prison for drug smuggling.
“Meanwhile, the following drug traffickers are serving various jail terms:
- a) Halimat Oyebanjo Oyaya – 10 years b) Sherifat Shawni – 4 years c) Limata Ahmad – 10 years d) Halimat Isah – 5 years e) Olubumi Adejarani Olaniyan – 10 years f) Omobolanle Funke – 15 years g) Nuratu Bolanle Yusuf – 15 years h) Maryam Ibrahim Tanko – 7 years i) Rahma Abdulkarim 20 years j) Nuratu Yusuf Abike – 20 years k) Bolaji Kehinde – 10 years I) Yasirat Abolanle Salau – awaiting trail
“There are a number of Nigerians accused of drug trafficking incarcerated at various Saudi Prisons but the Mission was unable to undertake consular visits due to refusal by the Saudi authorities to grant permission for such visits despite repeated requests and “Drug smuggling into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Nigerians has reached an alarming proportion and all hands must be on deck to check this menace.”
The Consul-General gave insight into how a syndicate had infiltrated the security in Kano to perpetrate drug trafficking. His memo drew the minister’s attention to “a frightening development that portends grave danger to passenger travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano.” “It has emerged that some criminally minded individuals working in cohort with greedy airline officials at MAKIA, have perfected the art of checking in extra bags containing prohibited drugs, particularly Tramadol, using the particulars of innocent passengers and baggage tags presumably assigned to such passengers travelling to the Kingdom.
Regrettably, this contemptible act exposes innocent Nigerians to high risk of losing their lives,” the memo said, adding: “As you are aware Your Excellency, drug trafficking attracts capital punishment in Saudi Arabia. It is, therefore, imperative that urgent steps are taken to checkmate the activities of these miscreants. “Certainly, failure to do so would be tantamount to allowing innocent Nigerians to face death sentences for crimes they did not commit. “At this juncture, it would be appropriate to mention some of these cases that were handled by the Consulate-General. For Instance, Messrs. Bashir Usman Sani, Amdani Salisu Maikasuwa and Ibrahim Abubakar Ibrahim, were arrested and later imprisoned in 2017 while Zainab Habibu Allyn and Ibrahim Abubakar were arrested on 25th December, 2018 and have remained in prison custody following date, for alleged drug trafficking. “However, in the case of Ms. Zainab Habibu Aliyu and pursuant to a complaint lodged by her father, Alhaji Bashir Usman Sani (in Nigeria), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigeria Police (Kano State Command) have thoroughly investigated the case and six suspects were arrested and charged to Federal High Court, Kano.