…as Kwara pilgrims return, Saturday
Ibrahim Abdullahi reporting from Makkah
The first batch of Nigerian pilgrims who performed the 2018 hajj are expected to return to the country today.
An official statement by the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) stated that the return journey of about 55, 000 pilgrims would begin with a Saudi-based air carrier, FLYNAS Airline that would airlift Kogi State pilgrims from King Abdulazeez International Airport Jeddah to Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Chairman of NAHCON, Barr Abdullahi Muktar Mohammed, reiterated this yesterday while addressing pilgrims and officials from Kogi State during a tour of the tents in Muna, Saudi Arabia.
Before the commencement of the return flights, NAHCON will hold a post Arafat conference where Nigeria’s outing during the Hajj will be appraised.
The conference will have in attendance all relevant Hajj officials from both the federal and state governments, as well as private tour operators.
Recall that Kogi State pilgrims were the first to be airlifted to the holy land in an exercise that commenced on July 21, 2018.
Reports indicate that all Nigerian pilgrims in Makkah are in good condition with their welfare being catered for by NAHCON. Also, those who are yet to visit Madinah/ complete their hajj rites are being guided by officials of NAHCON.
Meanwhile, NAHCON has warned all pilgrims to adhere strictly to 32kg luggage and 8kg hand-luggage rule for their return journey.
The rule according to NAHCON boss, Barr. Mohammed would be duly enforced to guide against any abuse whatsoever.
It is expected that the return journey will be faster that the inward journey into Saudi Arabia as 95 per cent of the pilgrims are ready for home after the hajj exercise. Towards this, states Pilgrims Welfare Board have been enjoined to prepare their team ready in accordance with the flight schedule made available to them.
Similarly, NAHCON Director of Operations, Abdullahi Saleh yesterday, appealed to pilgrims and the operators to conduct the home-bound journeys orderly, adding that the handlers had indicated their readiness for the operation in line with the principle of first come first
In a related development, the Executive Secretary of Kwara State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Tunde Jimoh, yesterday, said that the first batch of pilgrims from the state will start returning to the state, the first week of September.
“Insha Allah, we are expecting our first flight on 1st September that’s Saturday, everything being equal.”
The Executive Secretary who spoke to our Aviation Correspondent through the Administration Officer, Alhaji Taofeek Ayinla urged the pilgrims to be steadfast, faithful and prayerful for Peace, progress and unity of the country as2019 general election gradually approaches.