The 177 Nigerians who had their visas cancelled and were subsequently deported lied in their application forms, the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Nigeria has explained.
The silence of the Saudis has irked Nigerians, in what was seen as an embarrassment to President Bola Tinubu who had barely left that country, after promising to pull down barriers against trade relations with the oil-rich country.
Others saw unfair business dealings by the Saudis in turning back a Nigerian airline on a lucrative route they, the Saudis, want to monopolise
But in a statement by the Press Attache to the Saudi embassy in Nigeria, Mohammed Al-Sahabi, said pilgrims provided false information in their application to obtain a category of visa.
The statement reads: “The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja would like to make a clarification about the media reports and Social Media releases concerning the deportation of Nigerian citizens at the point of entry into the Kingdom.
“The passengers whom were denied entry, and subsequently deported to their initial destinations, didn’t fulfill the entry conditions and requirements in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the Kingdom, as they submitted incorrect information to obtain a category of visa that doesn’t apply to them, which was discovered upon their arrival.
“The Royal Embassy would like to stress the importance of following the procedures and laws enacted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all visitors. Furthermore, all passengers should review all the documents to determine their conformity with the conditions prior departing from their countries to the Kingdom.
”This procedure was not limited to Nigerian citizens only, but rather to citizens of other countries.”