Speaker:Deported Pilgrims Can Return –Peoples Daily

By Lawrence Olaoye

The stand-off between the Nigerian and Saudi Arabian governments that threatened to degenerate into a diplomatic row has been resolved with the authorities of the holy land accepting to admit those deported Nigerians that are still holding valid visas.

The Speaker of the House Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who led the Presidential committee to Saudi made the disclosure yesterday at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on return to the country.

Those in the delegation include the Emir of Zuru, Alhaji Sani Sami, Alhaji Aminu Dantata, Professor Shehu Galadanci, Chairman of Nigerian Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Alhaji Mohammed Bello, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed.

According to Tambuwal, the Saudi authorities ..also considered Nigeria’s request for extension of the airlifting deadline to accommodate the deported pilgrims.

The Speaker who expressed happiness at the outcome of the meeting also disclosed that the issue of male companion for female pilgrims was also settled as the Nigerian delegation made it known that the issue  of the companion (Muharam) is open to different interpretations from the four jurisprudences in Islam.

“Our interface with the Saudi authorities has been very successful because we had serious and deep engagements. The first good news is that all of those pilgrims who have secured valid visas are being taken back. The understanding so far with them is that they will be allowed entry into Saudi Arabia”.

Tambuwal also pointed out that his committee’s intervention had succeeded in reinforcing the long standing cordial relationship between the two countries as he maintained that there were ample assurances to that effect.

He said “I believe that also, if need be, we have requested for them to extend the time of airlift and also the time of issuance of visas to our pilgrims”.

Commenting on the issue of male companion (Muharram) for female pilgrims, especially those under 40 years of age, Tambuwal said “Of course under the Islamic jurisprudence, Muharram is a requirement but there are different categories of Muharams, as well as different schools of Islamic jurisprudence: the Maliki, the Shafi’i, the Hambali and the Hanafi.

These are the four pronounced schools and they have their different definitions of Muharam and we have passed across to them that message and we believe that they understand and reason with us that in Nigeria, the predominant Islamic school of jurisprudence is Maliki School of thought, which allows for a group Muharram,” Tambuwal clarified.

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