All is now set for the inaugural flight to Saudi Arabia signaling the commencement of airlift Nigerian pilgrims for the 2018 Hajj rites in the holy land. This is coming one week after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia commenced its Hajj season.
According to the Head, Public Affairs Division, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Hajia Fatima Usara, “the flag-off is scheduled to take place today, Saturday, 21st July at the Domestic Wing of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja at 11:00 am. Pilgrims from Kogi State and officials are expected to be on the inaugural flight to be flown on MAX Air directly to Madinah.
“NAHCON is also pleased to inform the general public that the biometric data registration is progressing steadily. State Muslim Welfare Boards in conjunction with biometric data capturing officials have been doing commendably well in this regard. As at 19th of July, statistics shows that 17, 000 (seventeen thousand) biometric data have been captured while over five thousand visas have been processed.
“Pilgrims are once again reminded that the registration is availed free of charge courtesy of Saudi Arabia’s generosity. Therefore, any intending pilgrim that paid for the registration hitherto is urged to return to his/her registration center for a refund.
“Similarly, intending pilgrims are advised to be patient and wait for their turn to be invited for the biometric registration before they present themselves at the centers. This is important to maintain orderliness, prevent stress and to follow the arrangement on ground to accommodate a specific number of people at a time yet; everyone will be captured before end of the exercise.
“Intending pilgrims are also advised to note, for avoidance of speculations and distrust, that there are other biometric data capturing candidates that are not pilgrims but are legitimately traveling to Saudi Arabia for their different purposes. Therefore, the handlers alternate between different categories of biometric applicants, vis-a-vis pilgrims from licensed tour operators, travelers on tourism, as well as those applying for work and study visas to Saudi Arabia; everyone visits the same biometric centers for data capturing. Hence everyone is enjoined to exhibit the spirit of tolerance,” she said.