Independent Hajj Reporters, a non-profit organization,on Tuesday blamed the deportation of some Nigerian female pilgrims from Saudi Arabia on official negligence of some of the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards (SMPWB), who committed flaws in the visa application process of the affected pilgrims.
A statement signed by its national secretary Ibrahim Muhammed and publicity secretary
Abubakar Mahmoud said the deportation of another 50 women pilgrims Monday, October 1, indicated that there is fundamental flaw in the visa issued to the affected pilgrims.
“We are constrained to believe that official negligence and incompetence of hajj administrators, especially at the State Muslim pilgrims’ Welfare Boards (SMPWB), which are saddled with the responsibility of applying for visa on behalf of the pilgrims in their respective states is responsible for the current national embarrassment and humiliation meted to our women
pilgrims by Saudi hajj authorities,” the statement said.
The group said that “it is unfortunate to note most of the SMPWB officials are either grossly incompetent or have abandoned their basic responsibility for pecuniary motives, which is at the detriment of the law-abiding intending pilgrims, who are now facing monumental embarrassment having labored so hard to pay for hajj seat in order to fulfill their religious obligation.”
The non-governmental organization said that “so far, a total of 67 flights with 33, 761 pilgrims from Nigeria have been airlifted to Saudi Arabia. Of this number, 12, 932 were women of which 733 of them were denied entry. This is an indication that there are serious flaws in the affected
pilgrims’ visa, particularly in areas that have to do with maharam names or passports number,” the organization said.
“As at today, there are 33, 028 pilgrims from Nigeria in Saudi Arabia performing their religious rites; which indicates that there is more to the problem in their visa than we are made to believed,” the group said.
The organization however urges Saudi Arabia to respect international laws by treating citizens of other countries with dignity.
“However, we are appalled that Saudi Consulate in Nigeria could not inform National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on any flaw noticed in the muharam column in the visa of the affected women pilgrims for immediate corrective action thereby subjecting Nigerian Muslims to physiological trauma in the course of performing of one the five pillars of Islam,” the group said.
The group further urged the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria to be proactive in its regulatory functions to avoid subjecting innocent pilgrims to trauma and avoidable embarrassment. “As a regulatory agency, NAHCON should ensure that all SMPWB across the country live up to their responsibility to save the country and the pilgrims this monumental embarrassment,” the statement said.