Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2016 Hajj: 21,406 pilgrims return home

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Determined to ensure quick return of all the remaining Nigerian pilgrims still in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia back home, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in collaboration with the Airliners have redoubled the daily routing flights of pilgrims from the holy land to Nigeria.
Not less than 2,557 pilgrims to the 2016 hajj were airlifted back home yesterday, bringing the total number of pilgrims that have so far returned to Nigeria to 21, 406. The figure made in 46 air shuttles by Flynas air, Medview and Max Airline, have seen pilgrims from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kwara, Nasarawa, , Ogun, Oyo, and Osun, already airlifted back to Nigeria during the first four days of the operation. This is even as the Medview airline which departed Jeddah to Kaduna with 449 Kaduna pilgrims landed in Abuja instead, due to bad weather condition. But the pilgrims were, however, flown back to Kaduna later as confirmed by acting zonal coordinator (NAHCON), Yusuf Balele Wali. Meanwhile, the chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Barr Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed, has reiterated the determination of the commission to conclude the in-bound operation before the October 17 deadline set by the Saudi authority. According to him, the available human and machine at the disposal of the commission is adequate enough to achieve the commission’s objective of meeting up with the target date. In a related development, the Nigeria Charge d’Affair to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Umar, has called on the state officials and pilgrims to adhere strictly to the official luggage policy stipulated by NAHCON. Speaking during an inspection visit to the states of Borno, Nassarawa and Katsina pilgrims in Makkah yesterday, the envoy stated that any contravention of the standard rules set by the International Association of Travel Agency (IATA) could attract sanctions. He therefore charged the state officials to enforce the 32 kg main luggage and 8kg rules to fast track the airlift operation. The phased movement of Nigerian pilgrims back home from the holy land started September 17, 2016, with the arrival of 465, 501 and 474 pilgrims of Kogi, Kwara States and FCT origin into the country, boarding Flynas, Saudi’s airlines respectively. Meanwhile, a total of 62, 000 Nigerian pilgrims performed the 2016 hajj.

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