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Hajj 2016: Dabiri Erewa Warns Pilgrims Not To Travel With Drugs, Kola Nuts to Saudi Arabia


Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Senior Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has warned intending Muslim pilgrims yet to depart for 2016 Hajj exercise to resist any temptation to take hard drugs to Saudi Arabia, reminding them such crime attracts death penalty in the Kingdom.

In a statement by her Special Assistant on Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, the SSA said despite repeated warnings and workshops for intending pilgrims, it is disheartening that some Nigerians still ran foul of Saudi Arabia authorities’ law.

She recalled some Nigerians caught with hard drugs in the last few years are still currently on death row in Saudi Arabia, pleading with the pilgrims to shun the shameful act.

Dabiri-Erewa also reminded the pilgrims that kola nuts and prescription painkillers in large quantities have been banned in the Holy land adding if found, such attracts severe penalties according to new Saudi Arabia regulations.

She said the Federal Government (FG) through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and various state boards have made adequate arrangements to attend to the medical needs of the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

Similarly, she said the Saudi authorities have free medical centres in all the nooks and crannies of the Kingdom equipped with all drugs for their medical needs.

She urged the security agencies and other para-military stationed at the various departure centres in Nigeria to screen the pilgrims before their departure to Saudi Arabia.

Dabiri-Erewa advised Nigerian pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the country by portraying Nigeria in good image and pray for peace, unity and progress of the country in the Holy land.

Since the beginning of airlifting of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on August 15, more than five Nigerians have been arrested for alleged possession of substance suspected to be hard drugs as well as kola nuts.

It will be recalled that the Saudi Arabian authorities have asked Nigerian pilgrims not to bring kola nuts during the 2016 Hajj.

“All those who intend to perform Hajj are therefore advised to adhere strictly to the Saudi rules and regulations on prohibited items,” NAHCON said in a statement.

The Nigerian Hajj commission also urged Muslim Pilgrim Welfare Boards (MPWB) and licensed tour operators to properly educate pilgrims to avoid penal actions on those found in violation of the instruction on smuggling kola nut. Violators will be punished in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom.

This caffeine-based edible seed – the kola nut, is usually known as “Goro” and “oji” and often used ceremonially by Nigerians to show a gesture of friendship and warmth; it is also used in the production of beverage and energy drinks.

Over 70,000 Nigerian pilgrims are expected to perform this year’s Hajj.

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