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Detained pilgrims FG to send delegation to Saudi Arabia

President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan  has approved the constitution of a Presidential delegation to interface with the Saudi Authorities over the issues surrounding the detained Nigerian female pilgrims at King Abdul-Azziz International Airport, Jeddah.

This was contained in statement issued last night by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

Anyim stated that the delegation would be  composed as follows: the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu  Tambuwal who would lead the delegation;   Dr. Nuruddeen Mohammed,Hon. Minister of State II for  Foreign Affairs;   Ambassador Shehu Galadanchi;  Sheikh Sherif Saleh and   Muhammad Bello, Chairman, National Hajj Commission

The SGF further stated that  the delegation will depart for Saudi Arabia as soon as an appointment is finalised with the appropriate Saudi authorities. He directed all members of the delegation to  stand by.
It would recalled that about 1000 female Nigerian pilgrims have been detained by Saudi authorities upon arrival at the Jeddah Airport since last Sunday.

The Federal Government on Wednesday also gave the Saudi Arabia government 24 hours to expedite action in resolving the issues surrounding the detention of some Nigerian female pilgrims.
Vice President Namadi Sambo gave the ultimatum when he summoned the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Khaled Abdrabuh, to his office.

The over 750 Nigerian female pilgrims in Saudi Arabia adjudged by the authority to be without male companion (Muharram) have been detained in Jeddah and Madinah.
Sambo expressed the country’s displeasure over the treatment being meted out to Nigerian pilgrims performing this year’s pilgrimage in the holy land.
He said reports available to him suggested that only Nigerian pilgrims were being subjected to such dehumanising treatment.

Sambo, therefore, requested the Saudi Arabian authorities to apply caution and flexibility to allow the pilgrims undertake their sacred religious duties.
“Should the Saudi authorities not desire our pilgrims to perform this year’s Hajj, they should let the country know.”

He said that no reasonable and responsible government would sit and fold its arms while its citizens are manhandled.

The vice president, therefore, requested the Ambassador to do all within his powers to ensure that the issues were resolved within 24 hours, and the outcome communicated to him.
While explaining the position of his government, Abdrabuh said that Nigeria was not being treated in isolation, and that all the countries participating in the Hajj were affected.

He said that the issue of Muharram for female pilgrims was not a new policy, but that the Saudi government decided to be flexible in the past.

He revealed that the Ministries of Hajj, Foreign Affairs and Interior and the governor of Mecca were meeting in Riyadh, the country’s capital, with a view to resolving the impasse speedily.
Abdrabuh expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved within 24 hours.

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