Despite the Vice President, Namadi Sambo‘s intervention into the detainment of over 1000 Nigerian female pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian authorities have deported 510 pilgrims. 171 pilgrims had earlier been deported on Wednesday.
The female returnees were among the Nigerian women pilgrims for the 2012 hajj detained in Medina and Jeddah. The authorities of Saudi Arabia insisted that the women were unaccompanied by male relations which was considered against laid down rules of the kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Khalid Abdrabuh had on Wednesday given an assurance that the controversy over the detention of the female Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will be resolved by Thursday. Despite this, they were deported on Thursday.
Spokesman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Mallam Uba Mana told Punch that those brought back were a part of 1020 earlier detained by the Saudi officials at the King Fahd Airport.
He was however silent on the fate of others who were still detained in Saudi Arabia.
“We are awaiting a response from the King of Saudi Arabia so that a discussion can be opened between the two parties. We strongly believe that there is hope in sight, we hope that shortly the whole thing would be resolved,” he was quoted as saying.
He said the commission hoped that the Federal Government at the Presidency level would soon settle the matter which is already threatening the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
Vanguard reported an intriguing development noting that the husband of one of the female deportees also returned home with his wife, in protest, when the Saudi Authorities refused to clear his wife, even after explaining that he was the husband of the woman.
To resolve the issue, President Goodluck Jonathan has constituted a Presidential delegation to interface with the Saudi authorities.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, named Aminu Tambuwal as leader of that delegation.
Other members are: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nuruddeen Mohammed, Ambassador Shehu Galadanchi; Sheikh Sherif Saleh and Chairman of the Hajj Commission, Muhammad Bello.
The delegation is expected to depart for Saudi Arabia as soon as an appointment is finalised with the appropriate Saudi authorities.