Three Nigerian pilgrims for this year’s Hajj exercise at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia risk execution over their alleged involvement in drug trafficking. The pilgrims from Kwara State, whose identities were being protected, were arrested for alleged possession of substance suspected to be cocaine. Drug trafficking offence carries death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Hajia Fatima Abolore- Jimoh, the Executive Secretary, Kwara Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, confirmed the arrests yesterday. She said the three pilgrims, who were among the first batch of 505 pilgrims from Kwara, were arrested in Madinnah by Saudi Arabian security operatives.

The executive secretary, who did not disclose the identities of the three suspects, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the suspects were still in the custody of Saudi Arabian authorities.

Abolore-Jimoh said the Saudi Arabian law would certainly take its course on the three suspected drug traffickers. She described the arrest as unfortunate and painful despite appeals to them to be good ambassadors of  Kwara and Nigeria.

The executive secretary said that other pilgrims from the state were still in Madinnah, hale, healthy and in good spirit in spite of the unfortunate incident. The first batch of pilgrims from Kwara State left for Saudi two weeks ago. A source who is familiar with the incident, but asked not to be named, told New Telegraph that the three pilgrims belong to a drug syndicate.

According to the source, five people were involved in the drug trafficking, out of which three of them were already caught while the two others were yet to leave Nigeria when their partners had been arrested in Saudi.

His words: “Yes, they are Kwarans, but not resident in Ilorin. They came to board from Lagos. What we heard was that they were five in number. They were discovered with the drugs and the initial thinking was that they were working in pairs with their colleagues who were expected to come on the second flight.

So, there was surveillance on the two ends, from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, but since no one has been caught again, it may be that the others had taken cover. “It is not clear yet whether they are from Ilorin, but what is clear is that they are Kwarans. I think the National Hajj Commission will give more details. Beyond this, nothing else to add except maybe to reiterate that they are still with the police.”

A total of 1,978 pilgrims from Kwara State are performing the 2016 pilgrimage. Efforts to get reactions from the authorities of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on the matter were not successful as several calls put to the mobile phones of the Head, Public Relations Department, Uba Mana, were not answered. This was as an SMS sent to one of the lines was also not replied or acknowledged.

However, when a call was put through to the Chairman of the Commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Muktar Muhammad, for his reaction, he said that he could not speak on the phone on such official matter, noting that the line with which he received the call was his private number.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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