It was reported that over 750 Nigerian female pilgrims in Saudi Arabia adjudged by the authorities to be without male companion (Muharram) have been detained in Jeddah and Madinah. Sahara Reporters put the figure of detained women at 1,000.
Some of the women who have been held since Sunday were enroute to make the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Hundreds of the women were sleeping on the floor, did not have their belongings and were sharing four toilets at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
Vice President of Nigeria, Namadi Sambo expressed the country’s displeasure over the treatment being meted out to Nigerian pilgrims performing this year’s pilgrimage in the holy land. He said reports available to him suggested that only Nigerian pilgrims were being subjected to such dehumanising treatment.
Reportedly, women under the age of 35 were being detained for not travelling with a male relative which is a requirement for women on the Hajj. However, there had earlier been a longstanding agreement between National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Saudi authorities allows visas to be issued for Nigerian women going to Mecca as long as they are accompanied by their local Hajj committee officials. But since Sunday, hundreds of Nigerian women have been stopped at the airports in Jeddah and Medina.
They are particularly stopping women between the ages of 25 and 35 without a male relative.
The Vice President therefore told the Saudi Arabian authorities to apply caution and flexibility to allow the pilgrims undertake their sacred religious duties.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Wednesday suspended airlifting of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia pending the resolution of the diplomatic row between Nigeria and Saudi authorities.
Photo Credit: Sahara Reporters