The leader (Amir Hajj) of the Federal Capital Territory Muslim Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year, General Bagudu Mamman (Rtd) says the government is partly to be blamed for the detention and eventual deportation of some female pilgrims.
General Mamman who received the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs at the Pilgrim’s Camp in Abuja said Nigeria could have avoided the face-off if earlier warnings had been heeded.
The camp was filled with pilgrims, many of whom should have been in Saudi Arabia by now but for the hitches in this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The committee was told that 1000 pilgrims from the FCT have so far travelled for the hajj.
Meanwhile Chairman of the Committee, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje advised intending pilgrims from FCT to be of good behaviour in Saudi Arabia.
“Every one of you is an ambassador of Nigeria while in the Holy Land, “she said.
Elendu-Ukeje said that the committee would do everything possible to ensure that the pilgrims perform hitch-free religious rites.
The chairman urged them to protect and uphold the good name that Nigerian pilgrims had been known for to avoid being treated the way some female pilgrims were treated recently.
The lawmaker said that the Presidential committee put in place to dialogue with the Saudi authorities, would ensure that the deported female pilgrims went back to perform the Hajj.
The Saudi Arabian ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Khaled Abdrabuh has given the assurance that the controversy over the detention of 908 female Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and the deportation of some will be resolved later today.
The Federal Government on Wednesday gave the Saudi Arabian government 24 hours to resolve the issue as instructed by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, after he summoned the Arabian envoy to his office.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, who is the head of federal government delegation to Saudi Arabia to resolve the impasse, met with the Saudi Arabia envoy behind closed doors on Thursday.
Honourable Tambuwal in his address to journalists stated that the Nigerian mission in Riyadh is meeting with Saudi authorities to resolve the situation.
However, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign affairs, Representative Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, has warned that Nigeria will not hesitate to bring back her people if the issue is not resolved today.
According to the National Hajj Commission, 908 female Nigerian pilgrims were refused entry into Saudi Arabia, alleging that they breached the escort rules for female pilgrims under Saudi law.
The law of the Islamic nation stipulates that any female pilgrim that is not over 40years old must be accompanied by a male who should either be her husband, brother or father.