The Independent Hajj Reporters has commended the federal government for taking “immediate and proactive steps” in seeking redress for the two Nigerian pilgrims reportedly manhandled by Saudi Arabian security agents in Madina airport.
“The prompt response of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the Nigerian Charge de Affairs in seeking redress for the two Nasarawa State pilgrims is commendable and unprecedented,” a statement by the civil society’s national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, said.
“Last week, two Nasarawa State pilgrims were allegedly manhandled by the Saudi security forces on arrival at the Madina Airport,” the statement said.
It was reported that “immediately after the issue was reported to the NAHCON office in Madina, NAHCON secretary, Bello Tambuwal, petitioned the Saudi authorities and alerted the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh to the unfortunate incident.
“However, after NAHCON’s petition and the Charge de Affairs prompt action, the kingdom, through the Governor of Madina, expressed shock over the incident and promised to decisively deal with the security personnel involved,” the statement said.
The Governor of Madina, represented by his deputy, Wahid Alsihli, alongside the deputy minister in charge of hajj and umrah affairs, Muhammad Bijawy, visited the hotel where the two Nigerian pilgrims were residing and personally apologised to them, NAHCON, and the Nigerian government.
The civil society said while it appreciated the apology tendered by the Saudi authorities, it however “urged them to curtail the excesses of some of their overzealous security forces especially during umrah and hajj period.”
The statement said whoever enters the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for umrah or hajj does so in heeding the call of the almighty to fulfil religious obligations and must be treated as a special guest of God, and accorded all respect and courtesy.