Saudi Authorities Release Alleged Nigerian Drug Traffickers

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Jamelah Sanda

The Saudi Arabian government has released Nigerian pilgrims who were arrested for alleged drug trafficking even as it has intensified security checks on others.

The officer in charge of consular matters in Madinah, Abdurrahman Hassan Fullatah, who made the assertion in response to the alleged drug trafficking story, noted that the allegation was over exaggerated by a section of the media.

He said two of the arrested persons had been released while the third was still under investigation.

He added that the laws of the land do not grant access to the culprit, even as the security cannot release details or information until investigations had been concluded.

He frowned at a situation where anything negative in connection to Nigeria is overblown by the media, even when the same checks and arrests are made in cases regarding other nationalities.

He however, urged Nigerian pilgrims coming into the kingdom to respect the laws of the land and not to come with contra-bounds in order to have smooth stay in the country.

The Madinah coordinator, Dr. Bello Muhammad Tambuwal, said reports on the arrest have been complied with, while efforts were still ongoing to follow up the case of the third person.
At the Jeddah and Madinah International Airports, security officers dressed in common Saudi attires have mounted vigilance on the incoming passengers.

They pick out some of the passengers at random or by intelligence estimation for special screening and possible interrogation.

A Nigerian pilgrim who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, said five co-pilgrims including himself were cornered by three plain-clothed Saudi men at the airport when they had finished their processes with the Saudi immigration.
He said the Saudi men took their international passports one by one and asked them to follow them into a room by a corner.

“Inside there, they ask me: are you a soldier? I told them that I was not. One of them asked me: Can you shoot gun? I said I cannot. They asked one of us: Do you know the sound kpakpakpakpa? The pilgrim told them he does not know. Apparently, he was scared. Then, they thoroughly searched us one by one physically and with a machine. After that, they gave us our passports and asked us to go. I was not happy with the experience because picking us out from a large crowd of pilgrims made me feel very shy and uncomfortable,” said the pilgrim who recounted his ordeal in a Nigerian local dialect.