Saudi Arabia has warned the Nigerian government that it will execute any Nigerian pilgrim found with drugs while they are performing the annual hajj to Mecca and Medina.
Every year, thousands of Nigerian pilgrims visit the Holy Land, as their country has the fifth largest Muslim population in the world. Unfortunately, sometimes they get involved into criminal activities including prostitution, drug smuggling and money laundering.
According to Nigerian Watch, the Saudi authorities have written a strong-worded letter to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (Nahcon).
In the letter, the authorities warned the Nigerian government that anyone caught with hard drugs in the Holy Land would face summary execution.
Alhaji Abdullahi Muktar Muhammed, the chairman of Nahcon, said that the Saudi authorities are serious in achieving a drug free hajj.
“We all know the stand of the Saudi government when it comes to drug trafficking. In fact they wrote a strongly-worded letter to us on their stand insisting no amount of international pressure will make them spare the life of any convicted drug trafficker caught.
“We have also educated our pilgrims on this and except for a woman who was caught with a large quantity of Tramadol, which is a controlled drug, no Nigerian pilgrim has been arrested so far. As of yesterday, a total of 27,383 pilgrims had departed for Saudi Arabia aboard 70 flights,” he said.
Alhaji Muhammed noted that the use of e-tracking has greatly assisted in managing and ensuring hitch-free visa procurement for the exercise. He promised that by next year’s hajj, all process would be automated.
Nahcon chairman added that adequate arrangements had been made for the feeding and accommodation of pilgrims in Medina, Mecca and Muna.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to end the federal government sponsorship of hajjis to Israel and Saudi Arabia, stating that pilgrims will have to sponsor themselves on the sacred journey.
Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, has recently disclosed that the state government saved N221.81m due to its decision not to sponsor the 105 Hajj.