The National Hajj Commission (NAHCOM) on Saturday announced the resumption of airlift of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia despite the deportation of over 500 female pilgrims by the Saudi authorities. You’d recall that Saudi authorities deported even more pilgrims after the Nigerian government had issued an ultimatum to the Saudi government to stop the deportation of Nigerian pilgrims and release those in detention.
NAHCOM chairman, Mohammed Bello, while speaking to journalists in Abuja said, “The suspension of pilgrims’ transportation lapses by midnight today (Saturday) and anytime thereafter, as soon as possible and applicable, the carriers will resume pilgrims’ transportation.’’
He said the decision to resume the airlift followed the commission’s review of the issues surrounding the repatriation of some female pilgrims from Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Bello said some 16,000 pilgrims were ready for airlifting to Saudi Arabia.
Nigeria and Saudi officials have been engaged in talks to seek a solution to the crisis, though reports say members of a high-level Nigerian team headed by Speaker, House of Representative, Aminu Tambuwal, are yet to receive visas to enable them travel to Saudi Arabia.