The airlift of the first batch of Nigeria pilgrims from Saudi Arabia back to Nigeria commenced yesterday, with pilgrims from Nassarawa State among the first to arrive Nigeria. Over 1500 pilgrims have arrived Nassarawa, Kastina states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with three flights.
The National Amirul Hajj and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, who stated this at the post Arafat meeting held at Crowne Plaza Hotel Jeddah, appealed to the airlines involved in the airlift of pilgrims back to Nigeria to be up and doing in order to ensure that pilgrims are transported back home safely and in good time.
Meanwhile, the Sultan also appealed to the pilgrims to be patient as their airlift home will not be as smooth and fast as their flight from Nigeria to the holy land because according to him: “Back home we have about ten airports where pilgrims were airlifted to Saudi Arabia. But in Saudi, there is only one airport (Jeddah Airport) where all the pilgrims will take off to their various countries.
“So, it is not going to be smooth and fast as it was when coming, because we have to follow the Saudi flight schedule. But Insha-Allah, we will ensure that our pilgrims do not spend longer than the necessary days required.”
The Amirul hajj further stated that the first to arrive the holy land would be the first to be airlifted home.
Corroborating Sultan’s view, the commissioner in charge operations, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Abdullahi Mukthar, said, “The capacity for the inbound will be the same capacity for the out bound.”
Amirul hajj averred that the 10kg hand luggage and the 40kg official luggage stand. He therefore urged the pilgrims to adhere to this rule to avoid wasting their valuable at the airport.
The Nigeria ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Garba Aminci, stated that Nigeria lost pilgrims from Kaduna, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara and Zamfara states during the Mina/Arafat outing. The pilgrims who are between the ages of 60 – 85 died due to complications from diabetes and high blood pressure.
He added that appropriate travel documents would be issued to pilgrims who lost their passports in the course of the hajj exercise. “So far, we have issued five travel documents to the pilgrims who lost theirs and the rest are being processed by the consul.”