The Presidency said on Tuesday that the execution of a Nigerian woman over drug-related offence on Monday in Saudi Arabia was pathetic and tragic.
The Nigerian woman was among four persons executed by the Saudi authorities on Monday, according to that country’s Interior Ministry.
The others were two Pakistani men and a Yemeni man.
Saudi Arabia has executed 53 people this year alone over such offences.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who expressed the feeling of the Nigerian Government, recalled that the woman became the 8th Nigerian to die in similar circumstances.
The SSA, who spoke with State House correspondents in Abuja, disclosed that 20 others were still on the death row, besides 12 more already sentenced to jail.
She noted that the 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.
She stated that for such isolated cases, it was the desire of Nigeria that Saudi Arabia should show mercy, since the drugs were not transported with the knowledge of the victims.
The SSA added, “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 kola nut 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 8th to be executed and we are hopeful that maybe we will be able to save the others. 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.”
She also reacted to the conduct of the five Nigerians arrested in the United Arab Emirates for robbing a bureau de change and carting away Dh2.3 million.
She described their conduct as disgraceful and an embarrassment to the country and their families.
She spoke further, “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.
“Nigerians are hard-working, 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.”
She spoke on efforts by the Nigerian government to educate citizens visiting Saudi Arabia to avoid getting into trouble by ensuring that they keep watch over their bags.
Dabiri-Erewa stated, “In particular, and this is a fact, Ethiopian Airlines and Egyptian Airlines; there are 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 travelling 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.”
However, she maintained that drug trafficking was a crime, which must be punished whenever it was truly established.
Dabiri-Erewa also spoke on the resurgence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, drug and cult wars involving Nigerians, saying that the Nigerian government was making the necessary interventions through diplomatic channels.