OVER 19,000 Nigerians are already in Saudi Arabia for this year Hajj. According to information made available by Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), 306 pilgrims departed Kaduna state for Medina on Wednesday, bringing the total number of Nigerian pilgrims in the Holy Land to 19, 397 and total flights to 47.
Tribune Online findings revealed that preparatory to movement to Mecca, states agencies have since stepped up enlightenment on Ihram (Hajj) rites. The Ulamah (scholars) committees from the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), Kwara, and Sokoto set up for the enlightenment were seen at the Zahra Al-Khairi hotels in Medina on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, NAHCON spokesperson, Fatima Sandra Usara has denied media report attributed to NAHCON’s Chairman, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad alleging that the Saudi government early closure of its Hajj portal was responsible for low turn out of pilgrims for 2018 Hajj operations.
The Commission in a statement signed and made available to newsmen in Medina noted that at no time did Barrister Muhammad in his interactive session with journalists accused the Saudi Kingdom for closure of Hajj registration portal.
“In fact, in so many instances, he justified the closure seeing that an extension for the deadline was obtained thrice. Instead, he blamed Nigerian pilgrims’ attitude of treating Hajj registration with a lacklustre manner, waiting until the last minute to make efforts for registration. Those present at the forum would testify that several times during the interview, the NAHCON’s head appreciated the Saudi government and its mission in Nigeria for their support on Hajj and Umrah matters.”
The NAHCON spokesman further recalled that ” during NAHCON’s nationwide sensitization visits in preparation for this year’s season, the Chairman clearly warned against late registration stressing that, this time around, Saudi had set a deadline for its portal. He gave reasons for this being that the Kingdom would like to compile a comprehensive data of persons moving into the Holy Land as a step towards maintaining its internal security as well as to plan for the reception of the expected guests.”
The Commission further in disclosed that the Saudi Kingdom extended its deadline severally following such request from NAHCON.
“True, some Nigerians’ late Hajj registration attitude has always been a major setback to Hajj planning in the country. The Commission had hoped that the new Saudi policy that sets a deadline to closure of Hajj portal will motivate intending pilgrims to finally have a change of attitude from the typical. Unfortunately, some still behaved true to type to an extent that even after closure of the portal, thousands approached the Commission with cash in hand begging to be allowed to register for the 2018 exercise.”
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