Hajj Pilgrimage: Speaker Gbajabiamila, Aisha Buhari Meet In Mecca


Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and First Lady, Aisha Buhari, have met in Mecca where they are currently performing the hajj pilgrimage.

Photos of the meeting where share on the Twitter page of the Speaker.

His tweet reads:

With the First Lady @aishambuhari in Mecca. May Allah answer our prayers for unity peace and progress for our beloved country.

The First Lady was also in the holy land in May, when she and President Muhammadu Buhari performed the Umrah.

Below are photos from the meeting.

The Hajj

More than two million Muslims began the annual hajj Friday under sweltering conditions, as the Saudi hosts sought to deter politicisation of the pilgrimage against a backdrop of simmering Gulf tensions.

The hajj, one of the world’s largest annual religious gatherings, is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be undertaken by all Muslims with the means at least once in their lives.

It consists of a series of religious rites which are completed over five days in Islam’s holiest city and its surroundings in western Saudi Arabia.

“All of the arms of state have been deployed (and) we are proud to serve as ‘God’s hosts’,” said security forces spokesman Bassam Attia.

“We feel cleansed by achieving this pillar of Islam and meeting people from across the world. It’s marvellous,” said Mohamed Jaafar, a 40-year-old Egyptian pilgrim.

 ‘A golden opportunity’

“It’s an indescribable feeling. You have to live it to understand it,” said an Algerian in his fifties completing the pilgrimage for the first time.

“It’s a golden opportunity and moment,” said his female companion.

Built in a desert valley, Mecca is home to the Kaaba, a cube structure that is the focal point of Islam and draped in a gold-embroidered black cloth.

Muslims around the world pray towards the Kaaba, which is located in the Grand Mosque, and pilgrims walk around it seven times.

Earlier on Friday, worshippers took part in Friday prayers at the mosque.

Pilgrims from around the world then headed on foot or on buses to Mina, a rugged district of Mecca at the base of Mount Arafat, where the faithful will spend Friday night.

A total of “350,000 air-conditioned tents have been pitched” in Mina, a Saudi official said.

Cooling mist sprays were deployed across the area as temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Mobile clinics and ambulances were on standby along the route, while Saudi Red Crescent helicopters monitored the pilgrims’ progress from the sky.

“The whole world is here… being here in Mecca is the best feeling,” beamed Mohamed Barry, a pilgrim from Britain.

Saudi officials said that 2.26 million pilgrims had arrived in Mina by late Friday, of which 1.86 million were from abroad, the state-run SPA news agency reported.

On Saturday worshippers will climb Mount Arafat, also known as the “Mount of Mercy”, for hours of prayers and Koran recitals.

After descending, they will gather pebbles and perform the symbolic “stoning of the devil”.

That marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, marked on Sunday.

Pilgrims then return to the Grand Mosque to perform a final “tawaf” or walk around the Kaaba.

‘Politicising the hajj’

This year’s hajj takes place to a backdrop of Gulf tensions following a series of attacks on tankers, the downing of drones and the seizure of ships.

Riyadh blames regional foe Tehran for the attacks on commercial shipping, accusations Iran vehemently denies.

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, some 88,550 Iranian pilgrims are due to take part in the hajj this year according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

As in previous years, Saudi authorities have been at pains to stress that the hajj is a religious event and have sought to prevent its politicisation.

Riyadh insisted its two-year embargo on Doha — which includes restrictions on Qataris travelling to the kingdom — would not affect the pilgrimage.

But hajj official Hassan Qadi acknowledged “very few Qataris have come to Mecca for the pilgrimage”.

Saudi Arabia’s hajj ministry accused Qatar of “politicising the hajj and creating obstacles for Qatari pilgrims,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The scale of the pilgrimage presents vast security and logistical challenges, with tens of thousands of safety officers deployed.

Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the worst stampede in the gathering’s history.

Maldives Vice President Arrested Over ‘Bomb Plot’

Maldives vice president, Ahmed AdeebThe Vice President of the Maldives, Ahmed Adeeb, has been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen.

The Home Minister, Umar Naseer, said on twitter that the Vice President is in detention and is being charged with high treason.

President Yameen was unhurt in the September 28 blast in his presidential boat, Finifenmaa while he was returning from Saudi Arabia after the hajj pilgrimage.

“We have arrested the Vice President in relation to the Finifenmaa incident,” a police media official told Reuters.

“He is now in police custody in Dhoonidhoo detention centre.”

President Yameen’s election has been the subject of drawn-out wrangling and in recent years, the Maldives has been rocked by political infighting.

The Maldivian newspaper, Haveeru, had said that security has been tightened in the capital, Male amid fears of “turmoil” triggered by the arrest.

“By early morning on Saturday, lorries loaded with policemen and soldiers were seen on nearly every street,” it reports.

Three others were also arrested on Saturday including a former member of Adeeb’s security detail and a member of the Army’s bomb squad.

The Maldives Independent website said Mr Adeeb’s arrest had “surprised and enthralled many Maldivians”.

Iran Calls For Probe Over Hajj Stampede

iran on hajj pilgrimsIran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, has called for an investigation into Thursday’s stampede at the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The incident was the deadliest to hit the Hajj in 25 years, with 769 people dead, more than 130 of them from Iran.

Mr Rouhani described the crush as “heart-rending”. As well as the fatalities, 934 people were injured.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, however, accused the Iranians of playing politics with a tragedy.

Mr Jubeir, who is also in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, said he believes Iranians should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that had befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty.

Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric had defended the authorities, saying the stampede was “beyond human control”. King Salman had also ordered a safety review into the disaster.

The crush occurred on Thursday morning as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite.

The pilgrims threw seven stones at pillars called Jamarat, which stood at the place where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.

With temperatures around 46C, two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other at right angles at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina, a large valley about 5km (3 miles) from Mecca.

It was the second disaster to strike in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 109 people.

Saraki Laments Death Of Hajj Victims

HajjSenate President Dr. Bukola Saraki is saddened over the death of about 717 pilgrims who died, following a stampede at Jamrat in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

Doctor Saraki is asking the Saudi authorities to review the safety rules governing activities around places where the Hajj rites usually take place.

The Senate President says he is pained that such a tragic incident could still occur, despite the safety instructions the Saudi Arabia authorities issued to pilgrims.

In a statement from his media office, the Senate President said, “We are pained. The death of pilgrims who came to worship from different parts of the world is too much for us to bear.

“My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident, and I pray almighty allah to grant aljannah fidaus to souls of all those who lost their lives.

“I also pray for quick recovery for those that sustained injuries during the stampede. May Allah give the families of the victims the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,” Saraki stated.

The Senate President also charged the Saudi authorities to organize a comprehensive review and update of the safety rules and security arrangement around the holy places where many pilgrims will always visit at the same time.

He said this was necessary to avoid unnatural disasters like the two that had happened in the last one month.

He also called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria to be more proactive in training and orientation of intending pilgrims as, “safety instructions and guide to pilgrims during hajj, particularly in specific areas, will help forestall future occurrence of such human surge and any other form of crises.”

Senator Saraki called on the Saudi authorities to intensify measures to guarantee the overall safety and welfare of pilgrims in future exercises.

“Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it to undertake. Tragic incidents like this may create fear and panic in the minds of prospective pilgrims.”

Hajj Stampede: King Salman Orders Hajj Safety Review

hajj pilgrimsSaudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered a safety review for the Hajj pilgrimage following the death of 717 people in a stampede near the holy city of Mecca.

Another 863 people were injured in the incident at Mina, which occurred as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite.

It is the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years.

The king said there is a need “to improve the level of organisation and management of movement of the pilgrims”.

The crush occurred after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina.

As part of the Hajj, pilgrims travel to Mina, a large valley about 5km (3 miles) from Mecca, to throw seven stones at pillars called Jamarat, which represents the devil.

The pillars stand where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.

The crush is the second disaster to strike in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 109 people.

South African Quarantined In Nigeria Tests Negative For Ebola

EbolaA South African woman who was quarantined overnight in Nigeria as a suspected Ebola case has tested negative for the disease and will be allowed to return home.

A U.S. disease expert assisting Nigerian health authorities said on Friday that the traveller, who had flown in to Lagos via Morocco on Thursday, was held overnight in an Ebola treatment centre for tests after she acknowledged suffering Ebola-like symptoms after working in Guinea and Sierra Leone since April.

Dr. Aileen Marty, professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University College of Medicine, told Reuters that the South African patient was treated for amoebic dysentery, which produced the symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting she had displayed on her arrival at Lagos airport.

“She is negative (for Ebola),” said Marty, who is in Lagos assisting Nigeria with its Ebola screening under WHO auspices.

The traveller, whose identity was not given, would be allowed to return to South Africa on the first available flight, she said.

The Ebola test was carried out by Nigerian medics and Dr. Cesar Munoz-Fontela of the hamburg-based Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, which has set up testing labs both in Lagos and in Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital.

Sierra Leone, Guinea, along with Liberia, are the worst affected by the largest outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic virus to date, which has killed more than 2,400 people so far, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The epidemic has also reached Nigeria and Senegal because of sick travellers “importing” the disease, prompting governments across Africa and the world to intensify health screening.

Democratic Republic of Congo has a separate outbreak.

Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria has instituted Ebola screening, including infra-red temperature scans and symptoms checks, at its airports and ports after a Liberian-American infected with the disease brought it to Lagos in July after flying from Liberia.

His is one of seven deaths recorded so far out of 19 confirmed cases in Nigeria.

Ebola screening will also be carried out on thousands of Nigerian pilgrims leaving in coming days for the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has barred pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea but is allowing Nigerians.