Indications have emerged that the authorities of Saudi Arabia are threatening to prevent Nigerian pilgrims from attending this year’s Hajj exercise.
Premium Times is quoting the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) as saying on Monday, April 23, that the government of the Arabian Peninsula is taking the decision because of reports of Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria.
A spokesperson for NAHCON, Mousa Ubandawaki, who confirmed the moves by Saudi Arabia, said that the Nigerian authorities are not taking the threat lightly.
“There will be an expanded meeting of all officials from the 36 states, the Commission and officials of the Federal Government to discuss the matter tomorrow,” Mr Ubandawaki said.
The NAHCON official said the meeting will hold at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Nigeria is known to have one of the largest contingents in the annual religious exercise with about 95,000 pilgrims.
But the outbreak of Lassa fever has been reported in a number of states.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that over 1081 suspected cases and 90 deaths have been reported from 18 states (Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekite, Federal Capital Territory, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, and Taraba) between January 1 through February 25 this year.
During the period, 317 cases have been classified as confirmed and eight as probable, including 72 deaths.