BY Abdulsalam Muhammad
KANO—It was a tale of woes, yesterday, in Kano as 171 female pilgrims, who were deported from Saudi Arabia recounted their ordeal while in detention in the Holy Land.
Max Air, one of the national carriers, flew back home 171 female pilgrims from Medina after the Saudi authority denied them entry on the excuse that none of them was accompanied by their male guardian.
Vanguard learnt that over a thousand other Nigerian women are currently being detained at the port city of Jeddah by Saudi authorities for the same reason and were also refused entry after every diplomatic effort failed.
Emerging from the aircraft that landed in Malam Aminu Kano International Airport at 4.58pm local time, Aisha Ismail, one of the deportees from Taraba, told Vanguard that “it was a horrible experience from friendly quarters.”
Sobbing profusely, Ismail said: “We were quarantined in a prison-like camp: no food, no water, and with few conveniences to cater for hundreds of my unfortunate type in the camp.
“The trek into uncertainties began four days ago when we left Yola International Airport for the pilgrimage. My joy evaporated after the airport screening, when hundreds of us were denied entry into the kingdom and subsequently driven into an open camp.
“We spent three days in the camp, kept under the watchful eyes of no-nonsense security agents that did not understand our dialect and we do not understand theirs. We were dehumanised by Saudi Arabian authorities for no reasons.”
Katsina State has the largest number of deportees with a total of 111, and Taraba State with 60 female pilgrims.
However, there was no official of Taraba Pilgrim Welfare Board on ground to attend to the needs of the deported pilgrims before they were driven out to Kano Hajj camp for onward journey back to Taraba, while Katsina pilgrims were flown to Katsina Airport.