Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora has charged intending Muslim pilgrims on the need to stay on the side of the law.
Dabiri-Erewa warned yet to depart for 2016 Hajj exercise to resist any temptation to take hard drugs to Saudi Arabia, reminding them that it attracts death penalty. The Saudi Arabian authorities have asked Nigerian pilgrims not to bring kola nuts during the 2016 Hajj.
More than 70,000 Nigerian pilgrims are expected to perform 2016 Hajj. Since the beginning of transportation of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in Aug. 15, more than five Nigerians have been arrested for alleged possession of substance suspected to be hard drugs as well as kola nuts.
The presidential aide in a statement by her Special Assistant on Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, said that despite repeated warnings and workshops for intending pilgrims, it is disheartening that some Nigerians still ran foul of Saudi Arabia authorities’ law.
She reminded the pilgrims that some Nigerians caught with hard drugs in the last few years are still currently on death row in Saudi Arabia, pleading with 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 Saudi Arabia, and if found, attracts severe penalties according to new Saudi Arabia regulations.
She said the Federal government through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and various state boards has 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.
“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.
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.