The Senate President Bukola Saraki has criticized the entry visa issuance policy of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Nigeria for this year’s Lesser Hajj.
Senator Saraki, who arrived Medinah on Saturday listened to complaints from some Nigerians who are performing the Lesser Hajj and noted that the Saudi authorities, unlike other embassies in the country, refused to articulate a visa policy which potential visitors to the holy land can follow and obtain their entry visa without any difficulty once they meet the requirements.
In a statement from the media office of the Senate President, Senator Saraki stated that the present process in which visitors to Saudi must go through a third party has created artificial bottlenecks now being exploited by the travel agents and the embassy officials.
He said Nigerians are now made to suffer indignities arising from conspiracy between the embassy officials and the agents.
The Senate President further lamented that the process is fraught with corrupt practices.
He reassured Nigerians that the Saudi visa policy will be one of the issues the Senate will look into when it resumes plenary later in the month and that the Saudi authorities as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja will be engaged to find a lasting solution to the problems of visa issuance to Nigerians by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday identified peace and unity as the only panacea to the progress and development of the country.
The president disclosed this while speaking to Muslims who were led by Vice President Namadi Sambo to his residence in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to pay him the traditional Sallah homage after the Ramadan fast.
President Jonathan described the challenges the country is facing as a passing phase and called on both the Muslims and Christians to continue to pray to God to see them through.
He promised to build on the foundation laid by the founding fathers of the nation and pledged to work hard with the vice president and the cabinet to ensure that the transformation agenda of the administration is achieved.
“Like people would say, that to get a fine gold, it must pass through an oven, what we are passing through now is a price we must collectively pay,” President Jonathan said.
Mr Sambo just back from Saudi Arabia told the president that it was all about prayers for the peace and progress of Nigeria here and elsewhere.
“We have prayed for peace in Nigeria, we prayed for the development of this country, we prayed for the good health to Mr President, for the wisdom and for Almighty Allah to continue to grant you the good health, strength and wisdom to transform Nigeria into one of the most developed countries in this world,” the vice president said.
Some of the special guests include the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur and the minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed.
The Nigerian Governor’s Forum has deferred the debate on Constitution amendment until after the Ramadan when all members of the forum are available, after the lesser Hajj.
Some of the governors are currently in Saudi Arabia where they are participating in the lesser Hajj for the Ramadan fasting.
The governors have being embroiled in a controversy over the creation of state police in the planned fourth amendment of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Rivers state, Mr Rotimi Amaechi who announced this in Abuja after a three-hour meeting also said that the forum resolved to intensify efforts on the eradication of polio in the country.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who attended the meeting however declined speaking to journalists saying she simply came to dialogue with the governors.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed Tuesday, 24 July to decide whether or not to grant Ali Ndume leave to travel to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj.
The serving senator who is facing trial for allegedly sponsoring the activities of Boko Haram had applied to the court to have his international passport released to him.
Coming some months after his bid to travel to Addis Ababa-Ethiopia for a Millenium Developmrnt Goal (MDG) conference was quashed by immigration officials. He again appeared before Justice Gabriel Kolawole seeking to have his traveling documents released to him in order to perform the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Counsel to the embattled senator, Segun Jolaawo, who held the brief of Ricky Tarfa,
argued that his client’s application will not be prejudice to the case while assuring that he will come back for his trial as soon as he returns
He however asked the court to take judicial notice of the fact that his client had returned his travelling document as soon as he was disallowed from going to Addis Ababa for the MDG conference.
Mr Jolaawo also reminded the court that the senator has not in any way flouted the condition of his bail and as such his motion on notice should be put into consideration.
But the prosecution, led by Sunday Mordi, who stood in for the Director of Public Prosecutor Olufumilayo Fatunde, opposed the application vehemently on grounds that it will jeopardize the ongoing trial of the senator.
Having listened to both sides Justice Kolawole adjourned the case to July 24 to rule on the motion.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Olufunmilayo Fatunde a 72-hour ultimatum to respond to a Motion on Notice filed by Senator Ali Ndume.
Senator is standing trial for allegedly sponsoring the activities of fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram in the northern part of the country.
Presiding Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole who reluctantly acknowledged a letter detailing the reasons why the DPP could not attend Tuesday’s session, expressed dissatisfaction at the way the prosecution is handling the case.
At the last sitting of the court, the DPP’s brief was held by a junior lawyer who could not proceed to argue a motion on notice filed by the defendant on the need to have his traveling documents released to him in order to attend the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia and also do a medical checkup.
When the trial resumed on Tuesday, Fatunde sent a letter to the court over her inability to attend the court session and as such the trial of the Senator could not proceed and his Motion on Notice could not be heard since there has not been any reply from the prosecution.
Justice Kolawole thereafter directed the DPP to within 72 hours file a reply to the Motion on Notice.
The court has now fixed July 16th to hear the Motion on Notice while adjourning the trial of the Senator to October 24th, 31st and November 1st.