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Saudi Arabia arrests seven Nigerian pilgrims over lack of Hajj permits



Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia arrested over ID issues

Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested seven Nigerian pilgrims in Makkah for failing to possess NUSUK identity cards, essential for performing the holy pilgrimage. The arrests occurred on June 5 and 6 in front of the pilgrims’ hotels, affecting individuals from two different states.

In Saudi Arabia, failing to have Hajj permits, harbouring, or aiding those without them incurs severe penalties, including an SR10,000 fine, six months imprisonment, deportation, and a 10-year ban from re-entry.

The identities of the arrested pilgrims have not yet been disclosed, and it remains unclear if the Nigerian Hajj Commission (NAHCON) has intervened on their behalf.

Responding to the situation, NAHCON reiterated its call for pilgrims to collect and use their Nusuk ID cards. In a circular issued to state pilgrims’ welfare boards, agencies, and licensed Hajj tour operators, NAHCON confirmed the arrests and emphasized the importance of possessing these cards at all times. The circular, signed by NAHCON’s Makkah Coordinator Dr. Aliyu Tanko on behalf of Chairman Malam Jalal Arabi, warned of increased enforcement as the month of Dhul Hijjah approaches.

NAHCON urged all State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and tour operators to ensure their pilgrims are aware of the mandatory nature of the Nusuk ID cards, stressing that “all pilgrims must collect their cards on arrival in Makkah from the Mutawwif officials.”

The commission highlighted that possessing the Nusuk cards is essential for identifying pilgrims and gaining access to key areas during Hajj. Pilgrims with smartphones can download the Nusuk app to access digital copies of their cards using their passports and visa numbers.

NAHCON warned that non-compliance could lead to significant penalties and urged strict adherence to avoid any disruptions in the pilgrims’ spiritual journey. A few days prior, NAHCON Chairman Jalal Arabi emphasized the importance of using the Nusuk cards to avoid arrests, underscoring the card’s necessity for identification and access during the Hajj exercise.

The highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia has also issued a fatwa, mandating every pilgrim to obtain a Hajj permit for the safety and wellbeing of all.

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