Abuja - Worried by the detention of 1000 female Muslim pilgrims from Nigeria, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has temporarily suspended all Hajj flights for the next 48 hours.
Announcing the suspension on Wednesday night at a news conference in Abuja, the National Commissioner in charge of operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad said the decision was reached after due consultation with all stakeholders.
To accelerate the process of resolving the matter, he said that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved a high-powered five-man delegation to Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, House of Representatives to interface with the Saudi authorities over the issue.
Muhammad said that the suspension became necessary in view of the untold hardship Nigerian female pilgrims were going through under the allegation that they arrived Saudi Arabia without their mahrams (male guardians).
"This is untrue as our pilgrims always arrived Saudi Arabia in the company of their mahrams, only to be separated at the airport by Saudi Immigrations.
"The measure is also due to the continued harassment of Nigerian Airline Operators on refusing Nigerian pilgrims to disembark from aircraft on arrival in Saudi Arabia and the forceful return of 159 Nigerian pilgrims from Madina Airport on Wednesday.
"The commission urges all intending pilgrims to remain calm as all hands are on deck to resolve the issue and hajj flights will resume once resolved," he said.
Muhammad assured all pilgrims that Nigeria had sufficient capacity to transport the remaining 60,000 pilgrims well ahead of the closure of Jeddah Airport on Oct. 20.