President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to ensure the safe return of Zainab Aliyu, a student who was wrongly arrested for drugs trafficking in Saudi Arabia. Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, was arrested by Saudi authorities on December 26, 2018, for allegedly travelling with luggage containing unlawful substance believed to be tramadol. Zainab had travelled through the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) for Lesser Hajj with her mother, Maryam, and sister, Hajara. A petition filed by Aliyu's family later led the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to uncover a cartel at MAKIA which specialised in planting illicit drugs in travellers' luggage. The arrest of seven members of the cartel led to the discovery that the tramadol-bearing luggage was planted on Aliyu without her knowledge. The Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed on Monday, April 29, 2019, that the government is already working on her release, alongside that of two other people with a similar situation. "@MBuhari has directed AGF to take necessary action. We are making good progress. She will be back, along with 2 others in the same situation. "Each case on its own merit. Zainub (sic) committed no crime. She must not be punished for an offence she didn't commit," she said. The presidential aide disclosed that even though Aliyu is in detention, she has not been put on trial yet since December. Saudi operates a very strict form of Islamic law and regularly dishes out death sentences for crimes such as homicide, rape, and armed robbery, facing backlash from many human rights organisations. Eight Nigerians have been killed in the past few years after drug trafficking convictions in Saudi Arabia and no fewer than 20 Nigerians are currently on death row in the ultra-conservative state.
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