Federal government has been urged to investigate allegations of extortion of Nigerian Umrah pilgrims on issuance of visa and by some tour operators in conjunction with some Saudi Embassy staff.
Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation, made this call in petition, dated July 14, 2014, to President Goodluck Jonathan and copied to Saudi minister for hajj and foreign affairs, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, the senate and house committees on foreign affairs and other agencies.
“In 2013, Nigerian Muslims who went to perform Umrah during the month of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia paid between N250, 000 and N350, 000 as entire Umrah package…
“However, in this year’s Umrah exercise, we received reports from some Umrah pilgrims that they paid as much as $2,000 before Umrah visa was given to them by some tour operators – who are allegedly acting in connivance with some staff of the Saudi embassy in Abuja and its Consulate office in Kano,” the group’s petition said.
The civil society: “Urges an investigation on whether Umrah or Hajj Visa is payable, to determine the roles played by Saudi embassy staff in issuing visa to tour operators, especially the Saudi ambassador in Abuja and the consul general in Kano.”
The group advised that proposed probe should: “Determine the approved guidelines for obtaining Umrah visa, and whether such guidelines were strictly adhered to by Saudi embassy in Abuja and its consulate office in Kano this year.”