“We Were Detained Without Food for Three Days”, Deported Pilgrims Narrates Ordeal
Some of the pilgrims who were deported from Saudi Arabia have arrived the country. The deportees, who arrived aboard a Max Air plane, which touched down at Aminu Kano International Airport at about 4:55pm, said they were turned back for not being accompanied by approved male relatives.
The female pilgrims, most of whom were in tears, numbered about 170. Of this, 111 were from Katsina State while 60 were from Taraba State. Most of them were seen in tears, looking weary and upset.
Some of them narrated their ordeals to reporters, saying that they were returned despite their wailings, screaming and pleas to the Saudi officials to allow them to carry out the annual religious ritual. According to one of them, Amina Jalingo, “We were held in Madina for two days without food. None of us could sleep because the environment was so cold. Most of us collapsed on the floor, sobbing and pleading after we were told that we would be deported. All our pleas fell on the officials’ deaf ears,” she recalled.
Recounting her experience, Aishatu Ismail from Taraba State, told reporters that “we have seen hell because the security people in Medina detained us for three days without food and care.
“The Saudi authorities caged us in one open space without allowing us to move an inch, and we were given no food; neither were we allowed to even buy any with our money. As you can see us now, we spent three days without food at the Medina airport.”
She lamented that all through their detention, “No any official of the Federal Government or state came to our rescue. Nobody attended to us in Medina, partly because the security officials over there just caged us and did not allow anybody to come close to us, all because they say we do not have guardians in our intended hajj exercise. We were terribly humiliated by the Saudi authorities. I also hope that if the issue is settled between the Nigerian officials and the Saudi authorities, we may likely be going back for the pilgrimage.”
Meanwhile, the federal government of Nigeria had given the Saudi authorities a 24-hour ultimatum to resolve the issue of the detained female pilgrims. Perhaps the deportation of these pilgrims is the Saudis’ way of “resolving” the issue.
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