Arabian foreign minister says female pilgrims were deported due to Islamic law

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga A. Ashiru yesterday (Friday) 28th September 2012, in New York met with His Royal Highness, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Acting Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs used the occasion of the meeting to register Nigeria’s strong objection to the treatment meted out to many Nigerian female pilgrims, who after fulfilling the visa requirements were denied entry to Saudi Arabia in order to perform Hajj, one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam.

Ashiru expressed Nigeria’s particular concern at the denial of consular access to the detained female pilgrims by both the Nigerian Ambassador and Consul-General in Saudi Arabia, which is in contravention of the Vienna Convention.

He also expressed the view that the action of the Saudi Authorities was not only unfortunate but did not truly reflect the historic friendly ties between the two nations.

He concluded by requesting the Saudi Authorities to immediately find an appropriate solution to the problem while ensuring that these intending pilgrims are treated with respect and dignity so that they can consummate their religious duties and obligations.

The Saudi Acting Foreign Minister, while expressing regrets at the development, informed that the denial of entry to unaccompanied female pilgrims to perform the Hajj was not a Saudi Arabian regulation but an Islamic requirement that all women must be accompanied by Muharrams.

He however informed that efforts are being made to find an immediate solution to the problem.  Finally, he expressed the hope that Nigerian pilgrims will in future fully comply with this Islamic injunction in order to avoid such unpalatable consequences.

The Nigerian government, while calling for restraint on the part of those affected by the recent action of the Saudi government, wishes to assure Nigerians that all efforts are being made to find an early solution to this worrisome development. Government also reiterates its determination to protect the legitimate interests of its citizens abroad.


Gaidam inspects destroyed buildings, promises to re-build

Four days after destruction of telecommunication facilities and state government’s buildings in Yobe state, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam (Monday) inspected some of the destroyed buildings in Damaturu the state capital and accused political enemies of aiding the spread of violence in the state.

Places visited by the governor include the state Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Pilgrims Commission and the Hajj Camp.

Governor Ibrahim Gaidam expressed sadness over the continuous violence in the state and accused political enemies whom he said are hell bent on destabilizing the progress of his administration.

Gaidam said he has recorded 50 to 60 per cent of his campaign promises to the people of the state and hope to achieve over 100 per cent before 2015.

“The political enemies have been giving the hoodlums some money to destroy the structures we have put in place for the betterment of the state, they are happy that this crisis is hampering progress we are making in all spheres of life but that will not deter us from improving the lives of our people” Gaidam said.

The governor said he has left a legacy that people of the state will continue to remember him for and will use the rest of his tenure to improve the lots of the people, calling on all to forget the past and join him in the quest for peace in the state without which no progress can be achieved.

The governor, who said he will reconstruct the destroyed structures, expressed sadness that money meant for other developmental projects, will now be channeled into the reconstruction of the burnt buildings.

He called on the insurgents to listen to the cry of the northern elders and the masses which this continuous violence has destroyed their livelihood to embrace the peace option given to them by the federal and the state government for peace to reign across the country.

Although the report of destroyed property has not been presented to government, thirteen vehicles were at the premises of the ministry while travelling documents of intending pilgrims from the state were all destroyed during the inferno a situation that will affect air lift of pilgrims from the state in the 2012 Hajj operation due to commence in two weeks’ time

The latest inspection is the second embarked upon by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, the first being during the destruction of Schools and churches three months ago by the hoodlums in Damaturu the state capital.