By Luminous Jannamike

Abuja—The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, yesterday, said it had concluded plans to finish the airlifting of all intending pilgrims to the Holy Land for this year’s pilgrimage by July 3.

This is beside the pilgrims airlifted by private tour operators across the country.

The Saudi government had allocated 43,008 slots to Nigeria, out of which licensed tour operators, under the aegis of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, got 9,032.

NAHCON’s Executive Chairman, Alhaji Zikirullah Kunle Hassan, who disclosed these while briefing journalists in Abuja yestrday, said the Commission had contracted three airlines to fly the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

He was reacting to fears in certain quarters that barely three days to the commencement of this year’s Hajj ceremony, thousands of Nigerian pilgrims may miss the exercise because they have not been airlifted to the Holy Land.

“So far, everything is smooth. We are back to full Hajj operations after two-year interregnum. We have everything in place. We expect to finish flight operations by July 3,” he assured.

According to him, over 22,000 pilgrims have been airlifted from 23 states and the Armed Forces with Kano and Kaduna State having the highest number of pilgrims.

The Executive Chairman further confirmed that NAHCON’s request for additional slots from Saudi Arabia had been turned down by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

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