News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had reported that the Saudi Arabian government released the names of 23 Nigerians that will be executed for drug-related offences in the country.
However, Ferdinand Nwonye, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday dismissed the media reports as baseless, saying that the Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia had refuted the speculation. He said:
“The attention of the ministry of foreign affairs has been drawn to recent reports in the media that 23 Nigerians convicted for drug offenses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been executed.
“The ministry is in contact with the Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia and it has been confirmed that the story is false and should be disregarded.
Nwonye added that the ministry was also investigating claims that most of the trials were done without adequate legal representation for the accused in accordance with internationally accepted practices.
“The ministry is investigating claims that most of the trials were carried out without adequate legal representation for the accused persons in accordance with internationally accepted legal principles.
“Furthermore the Nigerian mission was not informed of the arrests and trials. The federal government is, therefore, engaging the Saudi authorities through diplomatic channels with a view to finding a just solution,” Nwonye said.
The government, however, expressed displeasure that the country’s embassy was not informed of the arrest and trial of the Nigerians.