Saudis Block Nigerian Envoy From Detained Pilgrims

Saudi Arabia immigration officials yesterday denied Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Bunu and other consular officials, access to the detained Nigerian female pilgrims at the King Abdulazeez International Airport, Jeddah, a source at the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh told Daily Trust last night.
The source who spoke to our correspondent on phone said that the envoy, in company of six other staffs of the embassy including his Consul General Ambassador Ahmad Umar Yakasai, was at the airport for more than 50 minutes pleading with the Saudi authorities to allow him meet with the pilgrims to no avail.

This happened even as diplomatic efforts are on to resolve the issues surrounding the detention and subsequent deportation of hundreds of Nigerian female pilgrims by the Saudi Arabian authorities on grounds that they travelled to the Holy land without their individual muharram.

Vice President Namadi Sambo had met with the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Khalid Abdrabuh on Wednesday in Abuja and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is leading a federal government delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today to try to resolve the issue.

Ambassador Bunu had gone to the airport to assess the condition of the pilgrims and to also console them but the officials denied him allegedly on the orders of Saudi immigration controller in charge of the airport Mr Khala Sallah, the source said.

Meanwhile the Saudis continued the deportation of the over 1000 Nigerian female pilgrims being detained at the Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah and Madina with 612 affected flown into Nigeria through Kano and Sokoto.

Daily Trust said the envoy was also at the airport yesterday to bid farewell to the pilgrims who were flown back yesterday but the Saudi immigration officials refused to recognize his official status as a full-fledged ambassador representing Nigeria in Saudi Arabia.

“The envoy led six other top officials of the Nigerian Embassy to the airport to assess the condition of our detained female pilgrims and to explain to them some of the efforts the Nigerian government is making to see the matter is finally resolved. But the Saudi immigration officials openly humiliated all of them without recourse to the status as Nigeria’s official representation in that country”, the source said.

A total of 509 female and one male pilgrim arrived at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano last night, while earlier in the day, 102 female pilgrimage arrived at the Sokoto International Airport

Source: Daily Trust



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