23 Nigerians On Death Row In Saudi Arabia
THE recent execution of a Nigerian lady, Kudirat Adeshola Afolabi few weeks ago has not once again drawn the country’s attention to the rising number of Nigerians awaiting execution in different parts of the world.
KUDIRAT Afolabi and three other nationals were executed in Saudi Araba for drug trafficking, bringing the number of Nigerians executed in the oil rich kingdom in the last three years to eight.
APART from the eight already executed, 11 Nigerians are in jail, one awaiting trial, and 23 others are on death row in Saudi Arabia.
THE convicts were condemned to death between year 2016 and 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.
NOT only Saudi Arabia are Nigerians on death row over drug related offenses, investigations showed a staggering figure of offenders as much as 600 Nigerians in South- East Asian countries are awaiting the hangman, most of them on drug-related offences.
THE sad revelations have ultimately highlighted increasing desperation of some Nigerians’ involvement in the narcotic trade. More Nigerians are pouring across the borders with hard drugs in spite of the sophistication in technology as well as the stiff punishment mapped out to curb the illegal business. The boom in the illegal trade perhaps speaks to the fact that the country’s law enforcement agencies still have much work on their hands.
THE prevailing economic situation no doubt is also a contributory factor to the flirtation with death in which most able bodied Nigerian youths are willing to take a risk with their lives. Lack of jobs is also a factor as they roam about the major streets in the country looking for jobs that are not there.
Frustration and desperation to make a living make most of them to look for corners to the top. This undoubtedly lead to vices like drug peddling, money laundering internet fraud and ritual money making among others.
WE suspect that this sordid event can mostly be attributed to two things: Security lapse and drug syndicate at our International Airports colluding with airport officials to use particulars of innocent passengers and baggage tags to smuggle drugs leading to the arrest of innocent Nigerians who had no links with drug trafficking.
IN a report recently published , out of the 11 people in jail, only two of them are of the age of 20. Others are between the ages of four and 15, including the ages of five, seven and 10 years.
HOW on earth will a four-year-old child willingly traffic in drugs? What does a seven or ten-year-old child know about drugs or its trafficking, with the intent to make money from this? The answer can only be located in the collusion of some adults somewhere. The implication is that some experienced adults must have worked hand-in-gloves to put the children in trouble.
THIS was attested to in one of the consular-general’s letters to the minister where he disclosed that investigation carried out by both the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigeria Police (Kano State command), showed that there exists a criminal syndicate collaborating with greedy officials of some airlines at Mallam Aminu Kano Airport, Kano notably Ethiopian and Egyptian airlines who connive to check in drug-laden bags, using passengers’ particulars without their consent or knowledge.
THESE actions have indeed inflicted grave damage on the country’s image across the world as the country’s nationals being viewed with suspicion and subjected to demeaning treatment at airports across the world.
WE observe that government often greets these reports with no more than a shrug. In effect, the country is not doing much to get some of those who had conflict with the law out of trouble. We recall that the Consul-General wrote twice to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, on December 3, 2018 and February 6, 2019, raising the alarm over the plight of Nigerians in Saudi Arabia, especially Kudirat Afolabi with virtually nothing done on it. This invariably led to her execution by the Saudi authorities.
THE Hope calls on the federal government to use its diplomatic bond with Saudi Arabia to seek pardon for all our compatriots condemned to death and for those serving various jail terms.
WE express our delight that both the Kano police command and NDLEA have apprehended and charged to court some culprits putting lives of innocent travellers in jeopardy.
WE thus call for the enhancements of security surveillance by installing functional CCTV cameras at the checking-in counters and other sensitive areas of airports in Nigeria.
THE Nigeria Airport Management Authority (NAMA) in collaboration with other relevant security agencies should institute a compulsory baggage identification procedure before boarding for all checked-in luggage
EVERY passenger should check in his/her luggage personally and not through third parties
THE trial of those found culpable for checking-in extra-baggage’s using the identities of victims should be pursued expeditiously and the attested copies of the judgments be made available to the Mission for onward transmission to Saudi Arabia as proof that the culprits were punished in accordance with our laws
LASTLY the Federal Government should henceforth, appeal for clemency and pardon for all our compatriots condemned to death and for those serving various jail terms.