The Saudi authorities have stepped up the deportation of unaccompanied Nigerian female pilgrims, sending back to Nigeria 508 of them Thursday night.
man was also among the deportees. He was said to have decided to return
home after the Saudis also denied entry to his wife, according to
Alhaji Uba Mana, spokesman of the Hajj Commission.
Close to 1,000
female pilgrims, who landed in Saudi without male companions, have so
far been sent back to Nigeria, prompting Nigeria’s National Hajj
Commission announce the suspension of flights to Saudi Arabia.
Last night, the Hajj commission described the development as “”unprecedented and worrisome”.
consultation with all stakeholders, the National Hajj Commission of
Nigeria has been compelled to temporarily suspend all Hajj flights for
the next 48 hours,” the commission said in a statement.
commission said more than 1,000 women were being detained at the King
Abdulazeez International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Ibn Azeez
International Airport in Madina.
The suspension of all flights would enable the commission to “appraise the situation critically”, it said.
airport official in Jeddah said the women have been denied entry
because “they are not accompanied by a mahram (the statutory male
companion),” adding that talks were continuing between Saudi and
The women began arriving at Jeddah airport on Sunday.
171 of them flew home to Nigeria on Wednesday. Another batch of 102
returned to the country on Thursday, airport officials said.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday set up a five-member team to
negotiate with the Saudi authorities, an official statement said.
and Saudi officials held a “fruitful meeting” Thursday in Abuja on the
issue, the leader of the Nigerian team to the talks, Aminu Tambuwal,
Tambuwal, speaker of the lower house of parliament, did not give further details.