25th September, 2012
Members of Nigeria’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives on Tuesday condemned the continued detention of 400 Nigerian female pilgrims by Saudi authorities in Jeddah.
Reports indicated that the Pilgrims were detained on Sunday by the Saudi authorities at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah over allegations that they did not travel with their approved male companions, otherwise called muharram.
Though some reports indicated that the problem has been resolved diplomatically, lawmakers at the National Assembly however said on Tuesday that the female pilgrims are still being detained with threat of deportation back to Nigeria hanging on their heads.
Ado Doguwa, a member of the House who said that three of his sisters were among those detained, said information he got when he called one of them was that the condition of the Pilgrims were pathetic.
He said one of his sisters who has taken ill in the course of the detention has not been able to access any form of medication.
After discussing a motion moved by Abdulrahman Kawu , the Deputy Minority Leader on the issue, the House mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs to meet with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and report to the House on the situation on Thursday.
Kawu had earlier during a debate on the issue expressed surprise that the female pilgrims had obtained valid visas from the Saudi Embassy in Nigeria without such condition made known to them.
He also said the action of the Saudi authorities is a negation of long standing understanding between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia on Hajj.
Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs who said the detention of the pilgrims was first of its kind however told journalists that the ministry of foreign affairs was looking into the issue.
Most of the detained are pilgrims from Sokoto and Jigawa State who arrived in Jeddah above Max Air on Sunday.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad had in an interview with Abuja based Daily Trust on Monday described the action of Saudis as insult on Nigeria.
“They never raised this issue and never demanded that female pilgrims must have muharram. They did not make this a requirement for issuing visas. They issued visas to all these pilgrims, only to embarrass, detain and threaten to deport them when they arrived in Holy land. How can they do this to us?” queried the Sultan.