Journalism of Courage

FG accuse airline officials of moving, planting illegal drugs into luggages of unsuspecting pilgrims

The Federal Government has  accused officials of some airlines in Nigeria of planting illegal drugs into suitcases of innocent pilgrims.

” 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, revealed Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora.

” 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.

“In particular and this is a fact, Ethiopian Airlines and Egyptian airlines, there is always cases of when you get there you see something in your bag. So, it is now mandatory for these airlines and for all those traveling to ensure that you identify your bags before you board. That has helped. It is important that if you are going to Saudi Arabia with any of these airlines, you identify your bags. We have had cases where you just get to Saudi Arabia and somebody will knock on your door that something was found in your bag. It is mandatory for these airlines to screen these bags before you board the passengers.

“The case of Saudi Arabia is particularly worrisome because maybe, some of them did not commit the crime.

One Nigerian was freed not too long ago because of the intervention of our mission in Jeddah which turned out that he actually did not carry the drug. The embassy fully intervened and he was freed. There is one that has a court case and the embassy is fully involved and hopefully he too will be freed.”

She also described as pathetic, tragic and sad the news of the execution of a Nigerian woman on Monday for drug related offenses.

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.

According to  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, she will be the eighth Nigerian to be executed in Saudi Arabia for drug related offenses in the last three years.

She said there are 20 more on death row for the same offense, 12 have been sentenced for various jail terms in that country.

According to her, “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.”

The presidential aide 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.”

“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.

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