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FG gives Saudi Arabia 24 hrs to resolve issue surrounding detention

Abuja – The Federal Government on Wednesday in Abuja gave the Saudi Arabia government 24 hours to expedite action in resolving the issues surrounding the detention of some Nigerian female pilgrims.

Vice President Namadi Sambo gave the ultimatum when he summoned the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Khaled Abdrabuh, to his office.

Vice President Namadi Sambo (R), and the Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Nigeria, Khaled Abdurabuh during his visit to the Presidential Villa In Abuja on Wednesday(26/09/12).

The over 750 Nigerian female pilgrims in Saudi Arabia adjudged by the authority to be without male companion (Muharram) have been detained in Jeddah and Madinah.

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.

Sambo, therefore, requested the Saudi Arabian authorities to apply caution and flexibility to allow the pilgrims undertake their sacred religious duties.

“Should the Saudi authorities not desire our pilgrims to perform this year’s Hajj, they should let the country know.”

He said that no reasonable and responsible government would sit and fold its arms while its citizens are manhandled.

The vice president, therefore, requested the Ambassador to do all within his powers to ensure that the issues were resolved within 24 hours, and the outcome communicated to him.

While explaining the position of his government, Abdrabuh said that Nigeria was not being treated in isolation, and that all the countries participating in the Hajj were affected.

He said that the issue of Muharram for female pilgrims was not a new policy, but that the Saudi government decided to be flexible in the past.

He revealed that the Ministries of Hajj, Foreign Affairs and Interior and the governor of Mecca were meeting in Riyadh, the country’s capital, with a view to resolving the impasse speedily.

Abdrabuh expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved within 24 hours. (NAN)


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