From: Agaju Madugba, Katsina
The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a non-governmental organisation, monitoring the on-going Hajj operations in Nigeria and in Saudi Arabia, has commended the Federal Government for taking “immediate and proactive steps” in seeking redress for two Nigerian pilgrims reportedly man-handled by Saudi security agents at the Madina airport.
In a statement, issued, on Thursday, by the group’s National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, they said that “The prompt response of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the Nigeria’s Charge d’Affairs in seeking redress for two Nasarawa State pilgrims is commendable and unprecedented.”
Reports said that two pilgrims from Nigeria were allegedly man-handled by some Saudi security operatives upon arrival at the Madina Airport.
According to the statement, “Immediately after the issue was reported to the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) office in Madina, the Secretary, Dr. Bello Tambuwal, petitioned the Saudi authorities and also alerted the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh to the unfortunate incident.
“However, after NAHCON’s petition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Governor of Madina, expressed shock over the incident and promised to decisively deal with the security personnel involved.
“The Governor of Madina, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Wahid Alsihli, along with the Deputy Minister in Charge of Hajj and Umrah Affairs, Muhammad Abdurrahman Bijawy, visited the hotel where the two Nigerian pilgrims were residing and apologized to them and the Nigerian government.“
The IHR said that while it appreciated the apology tendered by the Saudi authorities, it urged them to “curtail the excesses of some of their over-zealous security forces especially during Umrah and Hajj period.
“Those who enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Umrah or Hajj do so in heeding the call of the Almighty to fulfill their religious obligations and should be treated as special guests of the Almighty,” the statement said.