John Ameh, Abuja
The Presidency said on Tuesday the execution of a Nigerian woman over a drug-related offence in Saudi Arabia was “pathetic and tragic”.
The Nigerian was among four persons executed by Saudi authorities on Monday, according to the Asian country’s Interior Ministry.
The others were two Pakistani men and a Yemeni man.
Saudi Arabia has executed 53 people this year alone over drug-related offences.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who expressed the feeling of the Federal Government, recalled that the woman became the eighth Nigerian to die under similar circumstances.
The SSA, who spoke with State House correspondents in Abuja, disclosed that 20 others were still on death row in Saudi Arabia, besides 12 more already sentenced to prison.
She said the Federal Government was saddened by the fact that in some instances, the unfortunate Nigerians were the victims of drug cartels working with some airline workers.
Dabiri-Erewa said in some cases, drugs were stealthily put in the bags of unsuspecting pilgrims by the cartels only for them to be picked up on arrival in Saudi Arabia.
The SSA added, “We have had cases where truly they didn’t commit the offence. We have appealed to 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 will 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 Saudi authorities to treat some of the cases with some form of leniency.
“We have 20 of them (on death row) 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.”
On the five Nigerians arrested in the United Arab Emirates for robbing a bureau de change, she described their conduct as disgraceful and an embarrassment to the country and their families.
The presidential aide gave their names as Chimuanya Emmanuel-Ozo, Benjamin Nwachukwu-Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna-Ngoka, Toochukwu Leonard-Arusi and Chile Micah-Ndunagu.
She said, “These five boys are a disgrace to this country and an embarrassment. So, if the UAE decides 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.”
On the resurgence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, drug and cult wars involving Nigerians, Dabiri-Erewa said the FG had been intervening through diplomatic and other channels.