Jeddah: Saudi authorities on Monday detained four hundred female Hajj pilgrims from Nigeria, who arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

According to media reports, the action was taken after the female pilgrims failed to produce their mehram – the approved male companion accompanying her on her trip, usually a husband, father or brother.

The authorities further threatened to deport the pilgrims to Nigeria.

The nearly 400 women were only allowed to be supplied with water and food by the Saudis after strenuous efforts by the Nigerian Consul in Jeddah and a Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad, who is the Amirul Hajj, condemned the incident and said that the authorities had never demanded for the mehrams before the trip.

“The chairman of the National Hajj Commission assured me that the Saudis never asked for this during all the meetings they held. This is very unfortunate. We have done a lot over the years to improve on our hajj operation and we do not deserve this humiliation.”

The Sultan also said that he had ordered the Nigerian pilgrims to resist any attempt to deport them.
“Let the Saudis physically carry them into the planes and deport them,” he said. “They issued them with valid visas, only to shift the goal posts at the very last minute, when they had already arrived in Jeddah.”