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October 5, 2012

Nigeria, Saudi Arabia Resolve Hajj Conflict

The recent diplomatic rift between the Federal Government and Saudi Arabia over the deportation of about 1,000 Nigeria female pilgrims was finally resolved Thursday, as the Saudi government asked the deported Nigerian pilgrims to return back to the country and perform the hajj exercise.
Justifying that the rift had been settled between both countries, a guideline from the office of the Saudi Arabian counsel in Kano, said: “Female pilgrims who are above 45 years of age can perform the annual Hajj without guarantor, while those below the 45 years should have their guarantors indicated in their passports in the name of their respective Pilgrims Welfare Board’s managements’.
Displaying the new guideline before journalists Thursday, the Executive Secretary of Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board (KSPWB), Alhaji Laminu Rabiu, said following the new guidelines, the board had commenced preparations to correct all the anomalies in the passports of the deported 221 female pilgrims from the state to return back to the holy land.
He said even before the new guidelines from the Consul General’s office of the Saudi Arabian Government, they had yesterday airlifted about 500 female pilgrims, who entered Saudi Arabia without any harassment, indicating that both countries had settled their ‘diplomatic’ dispute amicably.
Rabiu said the board had so far airlifted about 6,000 pilgrims out of the 7,000 allocated to the state, which meant that this year Hajj exercise had been a huge success compared to last year.
Similarly, he highlighted that they have not apart from the only one pilgrim that loss his life in the wee hours of the exercise encountered any death or serious illness, adding that this year’s Hajj programme would be one of the best in the history of Nigeria.
Rabiu also commended both the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria [NAHCON] and the Saudi Arabian government for allowing the state to enter into the kingdom with their medicines.
In a related development, the spokesman of Max Air Limited, Alhaji Ibrahim Dahiru, on Tuesday disclosed that about 23,000 Nigerian pilgrims have been airlifted to Saudi Arabia by the airline.
Dahiru explained that the airline had conducted 41 flights of the pilgrims aim of ensuring the completing of the pilgrims airlift on time.
He said: “The airline company which is operating in 17 states including Abuja, adding that the pilgrims from Lagos has so far being airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj exercise.”
Dahiru told THISDAY Thursday that the pilgrims from Kano and Jigawa States in the next few days pointed that the pilgrims from Kaduna, Lagos have been airlifted with the hope to complete the airlift on time.
He said: “Max Air limited is operating with a five Aircraft Boeing 747, and all our pilgrims will be airlift before the time schedule for the end of the pilgrims airlift to Saudi Arabia.”

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