Saudi Arabia Student Escaped Death Sentence Of Drug Trafficking

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A Nigerian student who was arrested in 2018 for alleged drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia was set free last year.

Zainab Aliyu was accused of smuggling 2,000 packs of a strong pain killer.

The Nigerian authorities later found that the drugs had been planted in her luggage by a criminal gang. Drug trafficking is a capital offence in Saudi Arabia, which practises conservative Islam. Those found guilty are executed.

This was the fate of a Nigerian woman, who was beheaded in the city of Mecca, along with two Pakistani men and a Yemeni man last year.

Ms Aliyu’s detention sparked protests and with supporters in Nigeria using the hashtag #FreeZeinab to call for her release.

Her freedom comes as hundreds of her fellow students gathered at Maitama Sule University in the northern city of Kano to demand her release.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari ordered the attorney general to intervene in the matter. His aide also tweeted the news of Ms Aliyu’s release using the popular hashtag #FreeZeinab.

According to the source, Ms Aliyu was arrested at her hotel in Medina by Saudi police in December 2018, shortly after arriving for the lesser hajj with her family – and remained in detention for 124 days.

The Saudi authorities had accused her of trafficking 2,000 packs of Tramadol in a bag tagged with her name that had been left at the airport.

They were accused at a federal high court of framing Ms Aliyu and have not commented on the charges.

‘I cried and cried until tears wouldn’t run from my eyes’, Aliyu told journalists, recalling her time in detention. ‘I thank President Muhammadu Buhari, Madam Abike Dabiri, and the Minister of Justice, Justice Malami, and all others who in one way or the other contributed to my release,’ she said.

‘I am also calling on some people who have created Instagram and Twitter handles, and even a Facebook account in my name, to please stop, because it is not good to deceive people. Honestly, I am not on social media, so the general public should take note.’

Aliyu was released from prison in April 2019 and returned to Nigeria on May 13 2019.

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