•Save us from being killed like cows,’ they cry to Buhari
•As FG directs envoy to wade in urgently
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor & Victoria Ojeme
Fourteen Nigerians have already been moved to a jail in Medina apparently in preparation for the hangman’s noose. That has sent shivers down their spines forcing them to dispatch a Save-Our-Souls message to President Muhammadu Buhari to do all within his powers to save them from being slaughtered like cows.
They were 15 in number but one of them was executed last year as a common criminal.
The manner, in which Yusuf Yakubu Ajiboye from Kwara State was arrested, hurriedly tried and subsequently killed, made them to entertain fear for their lives and came to the conclusion that the long knife was indeed awaiting them.
“We know they are preparing to kill us but before we die, we are pleading with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to look into the charges preferred against us and see if indeed, we have been given fair hearing for the offences they claim we committed, and whether the Saudi authorities have treated us well under the law,” one of the suspects said in a leaked document made available to Saturday Vanguard from Riyadh.
“They claim that we peddled drugs and committed other drug-related offences, which according to them carry death penalty but we want Nigeria to intervene and give us another chance to live,” the suspect pleaded on behalf of the rest being detained in preparation for their execution in the Middle East country.
Among the Nigerians in the Medina Prison awaiting execution are: Lolo Babatunde, Biola Lawal, Hafis Amosu, Jimoh Ishola, Tunde Ibrahim, Abdurimi Aweda, Adam Abubakar, Amode Tunde, Adewumi Adepoju, Saka Riyau, Aliu Muhammed, Abdul Raman, Yekini Yahaya and two other women.
Many other Nigerians arrested for drug-related offences have also been detained at Jedda, Mecca and Riyadh prisons in Saudi Arabia, awaiting execution.
Sources close to the suspects told Saturday Vanguard that there are no fewer than 25 Nigerian drug suspects being detained in several prisons in Saudi Arabia with the ultimate aim of executing them since the offence carried the maximum death penalty in that country.
But their fear has heightened since they claimed that they contacted the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh and pleaded with them to take action to at least free them from that country’s jail and repatriate them to Abuja to either live or die and be buried on their father land, but regretted that the appeal fell on deaf ears.
“Our government should act fast to save our lives from the hangman’s noose because delay is dangerous in this case,” one of the suspects told Saturday Vanguard.
The Nigerian Government confirmed yesterday, that it was aware of the detained Nigerians in Saudi Arabia in connection with drug-related offences and had already waded into the matter.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said necessary steps were being taken to engage with the Saudi authorities on the fate of the detained Nigerian drug suspects.
‘’The Minister of Foreign Affairs has directed the Nigerian Mission in Riyadh to look into the detained suspects’ case urgently,” the Spokesman for the Ministry, Dr. Tope Adeleye Elias-Fatile, said in response to Saturday Vanguard’s enquiry on the matter.
“The Nigerian Government will continue to engage the Saudi authorities in negotiations so that they will not be executed,” the Foreign Ministry assured.
It will be recalled that Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a human rights organization, had raised the alarm that no fewer than 300 Nigerians were on death row in prisons across Asian countries.
During the World Day against the Use of the Death Penalty last week, LEPAD once again drew the country’s attention to the rising number of Nigerians awaiting execution in different parts of the world.
Within this period, the number of offenders has doubled as more than 600 Nigerians in South- East Asia countries are awaiting the hangman, most of them on drug-related offences.
The revelations highlight the increasing desperation of some Nigerians 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. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are evidently among the active drug routes, judging by the number of traffickers caught regularly. Incidentally, these are countries where it is public knowledge that trafficking in hard drug carries the mandatory death sentence.
Indeed, many convicted drug traffickers had been executed in Asia, from Singapore to Vietnam. Some 120 Nigerians were reportedly on death row in Chinese prisons, due mainly to peddling in narcotics.