Minna - No fewer than 38 female pilgrims from Niger State were on Sunday dropped from the state inaugural flight to Saudi Arabia from Minna International Airport.
The pilgrims were dropped owing to the late arrival of their male guardian (Mahrams) for the flight, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN reports that the affected female pilgrims, who hail from Mashegu Local Government Area of the state, had boarded the Max Airliner, when it was discovered that their male companions were not around for the flight.
Officials of the Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Commission led by its chairman, Alhaji Mamman Mohammad, swung into action and the affected pilgrims were politely told to disembark from the aircraft and await their male companions to arrive.
Mohammad told newsmen that the commission decided to ask the pilgrims to drop and await the arrival of their companions in order to avoid the ordeal of being detained and repatriated from Saudi Arabia for the same problem.
He assured the affected pilgrims that they would be transported to Saudi Arabia in the second flight, scheduled for the same day, ``we are sure that their Mahram will be on hand for that flight.''
He said the commission was working hard to ensure the transportation of all its pilgrims to Saudi Arabia despite the late start of the flights, owing to the stoppage ordered by National Hajj Commission of Nigeria last Wednesday.
Gov. Babangida Aliyu of Niger State also assured the affected pilgrims that they would be transported to the Holy Land, after the commission had completed its arrangement for the second flight expected later in the night.
He also urged the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state by exhibiting good behaviour and obeying the laws of the Saudi authorities.
Aliyu also enjoined them to pray for peace and stability in the country.
The flight departed at about 17:02 with 461 pilgrims on board.