About 900 Nigerian pilgrims absconded in Saudi Arabia during the 2017 hajj pilgrimage

ABOUT 900 Nigerian pilgrims absconded while on pilgrimage to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia during the course of 2017 according to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (Nahcon).


Yusuf Adebayo, Nahcon's commissioner in charge of policy, personnel management and finance, revealed this over the weekend at a stakeholders’ meeting on the 2018 hajj in Lagos. During the gathering, he advised the pilgrims to abandon the idea of absconding after pilgrimage, saying that the Saudi authorities would always find them out, pointing out that there is no hiding place in Mecca.


Alhaji Adebayo said: “We have also observed that some Nigerians do not return with their state contingents after the pilgrimage. Some do not even perform the hajj rites before absconding.


“Most of the challenges we usually face are due to late preparation and the Saudi authorities have taken stringent steps to ensure that they do not recur in 2018. This informs why a deadline of March 31 has been fixed for all hajj payments because all payments are expected to get to Saudi Arabia by April."


He called on intending pilgrims for the 2018 Hajj to make early preparation to avoid unnecessary challenges. Alhaji Adebayo urged the pilgrims to always adhere strictly to the regulations guarding hajj exercise so as to enjoy full spiritual benefits of the exercise.


“We have also observed that some Nigerians do not know the importance of hajj, as when they get to Mecca they engage in unwholesome activities that have no spiritual benefit. Consequently, the Saudi authorities have recommended that intending pilgrims should be tutored on the importance of hajj before they embark on the pilgrimage."


Muftau Okoya, the executive secretary of the Lagos State Muslims Pilgrim Board, assured Nahcon of his board’s cooperation in all areas of preparation for the hajj. He urged intending pilgrims from the state to take advantage of the little time left to conclude their payments for the 2018 hajj.