After series of postponements, the special delegation set up by the Federal Government to mediate in the pilgrimage standoff between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia left Abuja Sunday for the Middle East country.
The delegation, led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, took off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at exactly 6.45am aboard a presidential jet marked 5N-FGU.
Other members of the delegation included the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed; Chairman of Nigerian Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Alhaji Mohammed Bello; the Emir of Zuru, Alhaji Sani Sami; Alhaji Aminu Dantata and Prof. Shehu Galadanchi.
Also on the trip were the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Defence, Hon. Bashir Adamu; Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon Anwalu Dahiru Saleh; as well as Hon. Ango Abdullahi.
The delegation was constituted about two weeks ago in the wake of the detention of about 1,000 would-be female pilgrims for not being accompanied by male chaperons, as provided for under Saudi Arabia’s immigration law that women under 40 years must be accompanied by male chaperons to be allowed to perform the pilgrimage.
About 700 Nigerian female pilgrims were deported by the Saudi Arabian authorities during the face-off.
Tambuwal, who spoke with reporters shortly before the delegation departed, urged the intending pilgrims affected by the detention and deportation not to lose hope.
According to him, the Federal Government will not relent in its efforts to address all the issues surrounding the deportation of the female pilgrims.
“With the prompt intervention by the Federal Government and the level of talks held so far, we can only urge the people affected not to be discouraged.
“A reasonable level of understanding has been reached with the Saudi Arabian authorities and we believe that an amicable truce would be achieved at the end of this visit,” he said.
Tambuwal assured the pilgrims that necessary arrangements had been put in place to ensure a successful engagement between the delegation and the host country during the visit.
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