Speaker of the House, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Tuesday condemned the detention of about 400 Nigerian female pilgrims in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The pilgrims were detained on arrival at the Jedda airport, Sunday September 23, 2012.
It was learnt that the pilgrims, who were going for the 2012 Hajj in the holy land were denied entry in to Saudi Arabia for not having their male partners.
The issue came to the fore following a motion moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Abdurahman Kawu, and supported by a cross section of the lawmakers.
In a resolution, the House directed the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to urgently wade into the matter, with a view to ensuring that the female pilgrims were allowed to perform their religious obligations in the holy land.
Kawu expressed surprise that the female pilgrims were not briefed on the new rule that forbade single women from performing the pilgrimage.
According to the lawmaker, the rules should have been spelt out at the time they applied for visas.
He said it was wrong for the Saudi Arabian Embassy to approve travel documents without briefing pilgrims of the rules, adding that the action negates the long standing understanding between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
Chairman of the House Committee on the Millennium Development Goals, Hon. Alhassan Ado Garba, who disclosed that three of his sisters were among those trapped in Saudi Arabia, said the pilgrims were been detained in pathetic conditions.
According to him, one of his sisters was sick and could not access any form of medication in the last 48 hours.
Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nnena Elendu-Ukeje said the action was first of its kind and disclosed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was currently handling the matter and would resolve it amicably.
Speaker of the House, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, also directed the Foreign Affairs Committee to follow up the matter and to brief the House at Thursday’s sitting.