Twenty-two years old Zaina Aliyu, who was recently rescued from Saudi Arabia’s death row by the Nigerian government has recounted her experience during the 4 months and 4 days stay in the Arabian prison.
She opened up during an interview with DailyTrust, touching on how the circumstances that led to her imprisonment made her completely suspicious and distrustful of her co-prisoners; to how she embraced her fate and took advantage of the time to learn “pure Arabic” and memorised half of the Qur’an during the 124-day imprisonment.
Recall that Zainab had travelled to Saudi Arabia for Umurah, a lesser hajj alongside her mother and sister when the coutry’s anti-drugs operatives picked her up for being in possession of tramadol, a substance which had been outlawed by the Saudi authority.
Her release follows discovery that the tramadol was planted in her luggage by a calous drug cartel that incriminates unsuspecting passanger at the Kano Airport and freed after a quick intervention by the Nigerian authority.
According to her, “I met several people. But I can assure you, it took me some days before I could trust some of the inmates. That’s because after realizing that I was actually framed, I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone. I did not trust anybody there, even among my roommates. The only person that I can say I trusted, is one Ethiopian lady with whom I was brought in,” Aliyu said.
“Yes, but only the Ethiopian lady I mentioned earlier, called Rehisty. When we were brought there, together, we found it difficult to communicate, because she could only understand a little English, and I understand only a little Arabic. So, it took us some time before we started communicating, in Arabic, which I picked up while in detention.
“I learnt pure Arabic. I also joined Tahfiuz school, and Alhamdulillah, I was able to memorize half of the Holy Qur’an during my stay in the prison. I also learnt how to live with people from different backgrounds.
Narrating her ordeal from when she was picked up in her hotel room till when she was released, Aliyu said it took about a week for her to come to terms that she was in prison.
She, however, said she and the other inmates were well taken care of, adding that she experienced no form of harassment or intimidation.
“I spent almost one week without knowing that I was in a prison, because I did not commit any offence,” she said.
“They treated us like human beings. Nobody humiliated or harassed anyone in there. And I spent 124 days there.”
Aliyu thanked the federal government and everyone who worked towards securing her release.
She cautioned that she is not on social media, raising the alarm that some people have opened social media accounts in her name.
“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari, Madam Abike Dabiri, and the Minister of Justice, Justice Malami, and all others who in one way or the other contributed to my release,” she said.
“I am also calling on some people who have created Instagram and Twitter handles, and even a Facebook account in my name, to please stop, because it is not good to deceive people. Honestly, I am not on social media, so the general public should take note.”