Eighteen Nigerians died in Saudi Arabia during the just concluded 2016 Hajj, according to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
The victims were from Kwara, Kogi, Bauchi, Taraba, Niger, Kaduna and the FCT.
The head of NAHCON’s medical team, Ibrahim Kana, said two pilgrims, including a 40-year-old woman, died in Madinah, three died in Muna, while 13 died in Makkah.
A mentally ill woman was amongst the victim.
He however said the 2016 death toll was the lowest in five years, pointing out that the low figure was a fall out of enhanced sanitation, increased medical awareness and compressed national medical team.
The medical team attended to over 21,000 patients since the commencement of the hajj rites, Kana said.
The medical team detected five pregnant women.
Meanwhile, Nigeria is to protest the seizure of electronic wristbands taken to Saudi Arabia for use by its pilgrims.
Nigeria’s Consulate-General in Jeddah, Muhammad Yunusa, said in Makkah that the action of the Saudi authorities ran counter to the understanding reached by the two governments before the introduction of the wristbands.
He said the embassy had in February informed the Saudi government of Nigeria’s plan to introduce the wristbands and this was followed up in July.
“This action is unfriendly, undiplomatic and we are going to protest against it,” he said.
The diplomat urged state officials of pilgrims welfare agencies to caution their drivers against reckless driving, saying it was giving Nigeria a bad image.
The wristbands were introduced by NAHCON to monitor each pilgrim’s movement and facilitate easy identification where the need arises.
However, thousands of the items were seized at the airport in Madinah by security officials and all entreaties by Nigerian officials for release fell on deaf ears.
Following this, NAHCON suspended the use of the wristbands by the pilgrims rendering the project useless.