National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has advised Nigerians travelling abroad, especially Saudi Arabia to remain vigilant over their luggage to avoid falling preys to unscrupulous drug couriers waiting to ferry their illicit consignments through unsuspecting persons.
The commission’s advice came on the heels of arrest and detention of a Nigerian Umrah pilgrim, Zainab Habibu Aliyu by the authorities of Saudi Arabia on the claim that she allegedly imported tramadol into the country before her release following the quick intervention of the Nigerian government.
Chairman of NAHCON, Malam Abdullahi Muhammad Mukhtar, who advised Thursday in a statement by the commission’s Head of Public Affairs, Hajia Fatima Sanda-Usara, said it has become “very necessary considering the peak of Ramadan Umrah which is approaching”.
Mukhtar, however, commended the federal government over the safe release from prison of Zainab, the innocent Umrah pilgrim from Kano who was implicated in a drug trafficking related issue in Saudi Arabia.
He specifically applauded the unwavering drive by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs towards securing the pilgrim’s release.
The NAHCON boss also appreciated “all the efforts put by our various missions in Saudi Arabia towards achieving the same objective”.
Similarly, he commended the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for honouring the investigations carried out to prove the victims innocence and her subsequent release.
“Indeed, the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Adnan Bin Mahmoud Bostaji, and other diplomats played vital roles in the correspondence that led to the release of our fellow citizen from jail”, Mukhtar stated.
In a related development, NAHCON has commended the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for unraveling criminals notorious for planting drugs in innocent traveller’s luggage thereby implicating them in crimes they know know nothing about.
It noted that the discovery gave hope for the release of Zainab from incarceration in Saudi Arabia.
The commission said it would continue to work together with NDLEA in ensuring a drug-incident-free Umrah season and 2019 Hajj period.
NAHCON added that collaboration with other sister agencies would enable them deploy necessary staff and technology at Hajj departure centres nationwide for security of pilgrims and their luggage against abuse by drug peddlers in any guise.
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