Call Saudi King over detained female pilgrims, Senate tells Jonathan

Channels Television  
Updated September 26, 2012

The senate on Wednesday asked the presidency to immediately take necessary steps to ensure the release of all Nigerian female pilgrims detained in authorities in Saudi Arabia.

Over 500 female pilgrims from various states, who had travelled to Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj, were denied entry upon arrival at the airport in Medina and Jedda.

The women, who began arriving Sunday at the airport in Jeddah, in western Saudi Arabia, were facing possible deportations by Saudi authorities, said a report compiled by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, which oversees Nigerian participation in the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

“Upon enquiries by the reception team officials of the National Hajj Commission in the airport, they were told that the pilgrims were held back because of lack of mahram (lawful male accompanying pilgrim),” said the report, which was submitted to the Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The senate while condemning what they described as the discriminatory detention of Nigerian pilgrims, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene immediately.

The Senate President, David Mark insisted that efforts must be made to ensure that the pilgrims are released and allowed to perform the hajj.

“From the efforts so far made by the ministry of foreign affairs, rather than just urge government, I think in this particular case, we should as the president to talk directly with the Saudi king. Because the way they operate there nobody else may make any difference,” Mr Mark said

He said the foreign affairs minister had done all he could without results.

“He has spoken to his counterpart; they’ve summon the ambassador. They’ve done what they possibly can but nothing has changed,” he said.

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