Nigerian pilgrimage officials arrested, imprisoned in Saudi Arabia

The coordinator of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) in Mecca, Suleiman Usman, has disclosed that some Nigerian pilgrimage officials were arrested and taken to prison by the Saudi authorities for trespass.

Mr. Usman made the disclosure while paying a condolence visit, Sunday night, to three Nigerian states that lost six pilgrims in the Mecca crane accident.

Six Nigerian pilgrims including one male from Kaduna State, four females from Gombe State and one male from Katsina, died in the tragedy on Friday.

The coordinator said the affected officials were medical personnel arrested for embarking on a trip outside Mecca without official permit.

“We are trying to secure the release of our medical team, who were arrested and taken to prison by Saudi security, while travelling from Jeddah in an ambulance,” the coordinator said.

Mr. Usman, who did not disclose how many officials were affected, and the states they represent, appealed to pilgrims to desist from traveling outside Mecca without official permit, at least until after Arafat.

“Pilgrims should not leave Mecca at least until after Hajj and with official permit. They should also ensure adherence to the laid down rules and regulation of the Saudi authorities,” he said.

Commenting on the Friday tragedy, Mr. Usman said rescue officials were able to identify Adamu Kargi from Kubau Local Government Area of Kaduna State from his uniform as he was not carrying his identification cards.

“We were able to identify the deceased from Kaduna State by his uniform because at the time of the accident, he was not bearing identity card and the hand identification band. But, we commend our pilgrims for wearing their uniforms all the time,” he said.

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