Kano — Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, yesterday, denied the alleged involvement of Kano pilgrims in crimes in Saudi Arabia.He made this known when he visited a construction site at the Saudi consulate in Kano.
Ganduje challenged the indictment by Saudi authorities, insisting a thorough investigation by the state government had proved the pilgrims innocent.Saudi Arabia recently arrested and deported an unspecified number of Nigerians, many of who were alleged to have been Kano pilgrims.
The governor noted that a report by the state's investigative committee confirmed that the arrested persons who bore Nigerian passports were foreigners who might have obtained the travel document fraudulently.
A consulate staff in Kano, who did not wish to be named, told The Guardian that deportations were a continuous exercise, which the consulate has chosen not to celebrate. He said offenders are simply placed on the next available flight. He said offenses include passport issues, overstaying and tax evasion. He disclosed that drug offenders are not deported but tried and executed. He, however, did not say if any Nigerian had met such fate recently.
A source told The Guardian that given the warm relations between both countries, Nigerian offenders often received less severe sanctions, making the citizens of other African countries claim to be Nigerians. This, according to the source, might explain the spate of deportations. Ganduje applauded the new Saudi visa regime, which entails biometric data capture, stressing that the innovation would curb illegal entry and criminality in the Holy Land.
According to a statement signed by Director General, Media and Publicity to the Kano State government, Mallam Aminu Yasar, Ganduje ordered the reconstruction of the Ahmadu Bello Way, which links the consulate. He said: "The road project will feature facilities like pavements, street lights, culverts and others found in major cities of the world. With huge investment and resources being put in place by the Saudi authorities, it is only necessary to provide a big infrastructure along that road. We feel it is our responsibility to upgrade the road, to facilitate movement, since many visa applicants will be visiting the offices from time to time."
Responding, the Deputy Consular General, Shiekh Yusuf Al-Ghamidi, said Nigeria is an important associate of the Saudi kingdom and that efforts would be geared toward sustaining relations.