17 September 2016
Nigeria is to protest the seizure of electronic wristbands brought into Saudi Arabia for use by its pilgrims.
The Consulate-General, Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Muhammad Yunusa, said this at the post-Arafat meeting organised by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in Makkah.
The wristbands were introduced by NAHCON to monitor each pilgrim’s movement and facilitate easy identification where the need arises.
However, thousands of the items were seized at the airport in Madinah by security officials and all entreaties by Nigerian officials for release fell on deaf ears.
Following this, NAHCON suspended the use of the wristbands by the pilgrims rendering the whole project useless.
Yunusa said the action of Saudi authorities ran counter to the understanding reached by the two governments before the introduction of the wristbands.
He said the embassy had in February informed the Saudi government of Nigeria’s plan to introduce the wristbands and this was followed up in July.
“This action is unfriendly, undiplomatic and we are going to protest against it,” he said.
The diplomat urged state officials of pilgrims welfare agencies to caution their drivers against reckless driving, saying it was giving Nigeria a bad image.
Earlier, the Charge d’Affairs of Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Salisu Umar, commended NAHCON for a hitch-free pilgrimage.
He appealed to officials to start preparing early for next year’s pilgrimage to make it better.