Last week, Nigerians woke up to the sad news of the execution of one of their own for drug related offences in Saudi Arabia. The widow, named Kudirat Afolabi and a mother of two, was publicly beheaded along with two Pakistani men and a Yemeni man who were also
charged for drug-trafficking and found guilty.
The latest execution has brought to 53 the total number of people condemned to death since the beginning of the year in Saudi Arabia.
In her reaction, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on the Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, condemned the development and disclosed that 20 more Nigerians are on the death row in Saudi Arabia, while 12 had been tried and sentenced to various jail terms.
She lamented that there had been cases “where truly they didn’t commit the offence. We have appealed to the Saudi authorities tomake the trials fair, open and ensure that justice is done.“If you are going to die, you will know that you are dying for an
offence you committed.”
She then appealed to Nigerians going to Saudi Arabia to obey the laws of the land, warning that even kolanut is treated as a drug in thatcountry. She assured that the Nigerian government would continue to appeal to the Saudi authorities to treat some of the cases with leniency.
However, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, Adnan Bostaji, who was at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Thursday to explain the position of Saudi Arabia, said the punishment was “deservedly meted out to the Nigerian woman because she was found guilty of violating
the Sharia law.”
He explained that the law against drug trafficking applied to
everyone in the Kingdom irrespective of his or her nationality, as even Saudi citizens were not exempted. “This is because we want to save our society from drugs. So, if we don’t impose our Sharia law on these guilty people, we may not save our society. The law is for all people in Saudi Arabia and not only for Saudi citizens,” he explained.
He further stressed that no one could feign ignorance of the law as all visitors to the Kingdom were made to sign an undertaking not to bring drugs to the country before obtaining a Saudi visa. He expressed dismay over the failure of visitors to obey the law, saying that despite
the strict penalties, people still ship hard drugs to his country.
Also weighing in, the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Isah Dodo, lamented the “notoriety of Nigerians and nationals of other countries in bringing drugs to Saudi,” stressing that the menace had been going on for long.
He said, “All we can tell our people is to stop taking drugs to Saudi Arabia or to other countries where the punishment is execution. Nigerians have seen many people executed in Saudi Arabia and this is sufficient to serve as a deterrent to them but they have remained
adamant and continued to commit this crime”.
Many Nigerians were jolted by the news of the execution of Kudirat because there has been a lull in the reported involvement of our nationals in drug-related cases overseas in recent times. A few years back, several Nigerian nationals were in the news for the very
wrong reasons bordering on drug trafficking. For instance, at a point, no fewer than 153 Nigerians were awaiting execution for their involvement in illicit drug trade in Malaysia and
Aside from those awaiting execution in Malaysia and China at the time, there were several other Nigerians numbering close to 132 who had been tried and convicted for various offences languishing in many foreign prisons across the globe.
This ugly state of affairs is rooted in the get-rich-quick mentality of an average Nigerian young man and woman. It is this mindset that blindfolds them from seeing the danger inherent in the trade especially those who are used as couriers. Then there are some diehard drug traffickers that still engage in the illicit business even behind bars.
The deteriorating economic environment is one of the major factors responsible for the exodus of Nigerians to foreign lands in search of greener pastures. Government at all levels needs to address the perennial scourge of joblessness. Nigeria has the wherewithal not
only to generate sufficient employment but also create favourable atmosphere for job creation by the private sector. If jobs are readily available for Nigerians at home, the tendency to migrate to foreign lands will be greatly reduced.
However, much as we identify greed as one of the factors responsible for this criminal behaviour, the government should be keen to find why, despite the establishment of the NDLEA almost three decades ago, Nigerians are still found among the notorious traffickers/couriers in the world.
Be that as it may, Nigeria needs to bring back the golden era of the agency when it was headed by the late Gen. Musa Bamaiyi. So effective was the NDLEA in those days that the fear of Bamaiyi was regarded as the beginning of wisdom in the circles of drug dealers.