Vanguard (Lagos)

11 August 2014

Nigeria: Ebola - No Worry Over Saudi Arabia's Visa Suspension for W-Africa - -Moslem Leaders

Some leaders of the Nigerian Muslim Community has called for caution over the reported ban by Saudi Arabia on pilgrims from West African countries, following the death in that country of a patient, who contracted the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, while he was on a business trip to Sierra Leone.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, reportedly suspended pilgrimage visas for West Africa sub-region after World Health Organisation, WHO, and Saudi authorities confirmed the infection from tests that were conducted on samples from the victim.

Although the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, tactically avoided comment in order not to give way to unnecessary controversy over the issue, some eminent leaders like Baba Adinni of Lagos, Sheikh Hafiz Abou; Director, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola and former National Commissioner, National Hajj Commission, Alhaji Liad Tella agreed that the reported ban by Saudi Arabia authorities was nothing to worry about.

Sheikh Abou said that since the EVD was not from Nigeria, there was hope that Nigeria's case in the matter would be explicitly identified as not being part of the problem.

His words: "As at now, only the National Hajj Commission, NAHCO, could give a position on the matter regarding the fate of the affected countries. When a plague had broken out in an area, why should people move from that area to another place where hundreds of millions of people are congregating from all over the world to worship?

"Even Islam teaches us that when things like this happen, that our movements should be restricted. That is the Sharia and all these are for our good health as stipulated by Islam. When the few that are affected now take their problem to inflict the millions of others that are free of it, does it do any good? It is unIslamic to do that.

"Our appeal to the media is to be cautious about reportage of this matter because Saudi Arabia is a straight‑forward, strict and disciplined society. But we cannot blame them because this is not the first time it is happening. It is, therefore, not a problem at all. It is even Islamic that they are taking that precautionary measure," Sheikh Abou said.

In his own reaction, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II said " in spite of the spread of the virus, Nigerian Muslims are still going to perform this year's hajj."

Professor Akintola on his part simply described the report of the ban as an unverified information that only the National Hajj Commission could clarify.

The university don said: "The National Hajj Commission are better placed to know exactly what is happening. They are closer to Saudi Arabia authorities and I believe that they are very active on this. So, we are watching the situation, we are observing It will be speculative when comments are based on what is likely going to happen. Fairness and justice are not done to any side."

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