Daily Trust (Abuja)

21 October 2012

Nigeria: Local Female Pilgrims Swindled in Saudi Arabia

Mecca — Some Nigerian female pilgrims in Saudi Arabia were reportedly raped in the holy city of Madina and Mecca as they were heading to the grand mosques for prayers.

The perpetrators are yet to be arrested by police. Already, 12 Nigerians have so far died in Saudi Arabia since the pilgrimage began on September 19.

According to the report, a cab driver used a knife to force the first female pilgrim victim into a dark place where he forced himself on her.

The woman (name withheld) was said to have accepted an offer from the man to lift her to the grand mosque after telling her he was also going for prayers.

"Instead of taking her to the mosque, the man took the victim to an unknown destination, where he raped her," a pilgrim from Katsina explained.

Similarly, there was report that another pilgrim from Kaduna was raped in the process of putting the artificial gold tooth.

Kaduna officials however claim, "She was only lured and swindled, not raped."

When contacted on yesterday, the state pilgrims coordinator in Mecca, Alhaji Danlami Shu'aibu denied, "She was only lured and later swindled by fraudsters. Not raped."

The coordinator also denied a report by the Nigeria local media that fire broke out in one of the 13 houses secured for the state pilgrims in Makkah.

He added that to assist the pilgrims, the board introduced free meals. While cautioning pilgrims on frivolous spending to avoid being swindled, he said, "Pilgrims have to be careful in the way they handle and manage their money as no money in the name of contingency has been made available for officials and government delegation to this year's Hajj to carter for pilgrims with financial problems."

He urged pilgrims to be law abiding.

Sunday Trust observed that many Nigerians were swindled by some illegal immigrants also known as Takaris suspected to be mostly Nigerians.

It happens when women go to buy things to be used for the Hajj exercise.

It was learnt that the fraudsters do approach the women and make them to believe that they are also performing the Hajj exercise and therefore ready to help them.

"They do communicate in fluent Hausa language which makes the victims unsuspecting," said our source.

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