Nigeria’s Federal Government on Wednesday in Abuja gave the Saudi Arabia government 24 hours to expedite action in resolving the issues surrounding the detention of some 1,000 Nigerian female pilgrims.
the country’s 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.
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 religious pilgrimage unhindered.
“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 males escorting 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. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal for a woman to leave her home without being escorted by her husband or a close male family member.