By Sadiq Umar – Chairman, Nigerians Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri- Erewa on Wednesday warned intending Muslim pilgrims not to allow themselves to be tempted into taking along with them hard drugs to Saudi Arabia, as doing so could attract the death penalty.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa gave the warning during the inaugural flight of intending Muslim pilgrims to the 2019 Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The NIDCOM Boss spoke against the backdrop of recent wrongful arrest of Nigerian for drug offences in a statement by NIDCOM’s Head of Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun on Wednesday in Abuja.
The chairman said that in spite of repeated warnings and workshops for intending pilgrims, it was disheartening that some Nigerians still ran foul of Saudi Arabian laws.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa reminded pilgrims that the Saudi Arabian authorities had banned kolanuts and prescribed painkillers in large quantities, saying that and that it attracts severe penalties according to new Saudi Arabia regulations.
She recalled that some Nigerians caught in possession of hard drugs in the past few years were still on death row in Saudi Arabia.
The chairman said that the Federal Government through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and various state boards, had made adequate arrangements to attend to the medical needs of the pilgrims while in Saudi Arabia.
She said that medical centres stocked with all kinds of medicines would be on hand in all crannies of Saudi Arabia to provide free medical services.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa urged security agencies and other para-military personnel stationed at the various departure centres in Nigeria to screen the pilgrims before their departure.
She further advised the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the coun. try by portraying Nigeria in good image and pray for peace, unity and progress of the country in the holy land.
NAHCON had announced that its inaugural transportation of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2019 Hajj began on Wednesday with intending pilgrims from Katsina and Lagos states.
The first batch of NAHCON advance team comprising 39 members of staff left for Saudi Arabia on July 5 with another 15-man National Medical Advance Team led by Dr. Ibrahim Kana departing much later.
More than 65,000 Nigerians are expected to perform the 2019 Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian authorities have asked Nigerian pilgrims and others to avoid bringing in prohibited drugs, foods and items to the country.