Nigerian government thanks Saudi Arabia for freeing Zainab Aliyu


Foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama has said the release of Zainab Aliyu by Saudi Authorities is a further sign of the immense goodwill Nigeria enjoys on the global stage under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari whose integrity is widely acknowledged.

The minister who received the news of the release while on official assignment in Guinea Bissau noted that all diplomatic channels at the highest levels were explored to achieve the desired result.

He expressed delight at what he called excellent news.

“We would like to thank the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for that decision,” he said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in very quiet diplomacy for some time now. We have provided them with documentation and this has obviously led to the release which is a very good thing. 

“I think it also shows the benefits of quiet diplomacy as opposed to conducting it on twitter and other social media.

“So we are very happy that quiet diplomacy has proven its worth.”

Speaking further, the minister noted that in this case it was proven that the alleged drug courier wad innocent unlike the very recent one which led to the execution of another Nigerian lady. 

“We know this is an innocent Nigerian and some criminals had planted drugs in her name but it was unfortunate that there was a case a couple of weeks ago where a Nigerian lady was executed in Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling and some people were very unfair.

“An internal letter to me was published by one of the media houses giving the impression that myself and the Ministry were somehow responsible for the execution of this lady as she was ‘innocent’ and of course that was not true.

“We know who had this confidential letter published and why they did it and we are aware but what was most unfortunate was the narrative that was created because in that case unlike this particular case that lady was found with drugs on her person and of course they tried to make it look as if it was the same case as this.

“But we in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have just tried to focus on the work that we do without trying to promote ourselves in the media but just getting on with our work for the benefit of Nigerians around the world.

“And in the case of the letter informing us about the situation in Kano airport we took the necessary action.

“And it was not at all the case that somehow there was a delay or tardiness in the reaction of the Ministry.

“But as I said, today is a very happy day and we are very happy and delighted this innocent young lady has been released,” the minister said.

All Nigerian missions have continued to respond to the plight of Nigerians around the world in compliance to directives issued by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs upon assumption of duty.

Sarah Sanda


Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Abuja May 1, 2019


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