2019 Hajj: Stranded private pilgrims seek NAHCON assistance to return home

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File photo of pilgrims

Hundreds of stranded Nigerian pilgrims, who travelled to Saudi Arabia for hajj through private tour operators, are appealing to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to airlift them back home. A delegation of the private pilgrims stormed NAHCON office in Makkah in the early hours of Sunday to submit a petition against their service providers and the airline that was supposed to lift them back home after the completion of Hajj rites.

They said they were promised in their contractual packages with their various private travel agencies that their maximum days of stay in Saudi Arabia will be 16.

Some of the representative of the pilgrims, who said they travelled through Murna Travel Agency, Ham Travels and Medview Consult, told some members of management of NAHCON that they all came to the holy land for the just concluded Hajj exercise through Skypower Express Airways. SUN Copy video url Play / Pause Mute / Unmute Report a problem Language Mox Player They, however, said as at Sunday morning, they have spent 31 days in Makkah and they still have no idea when they will return to Nigeria. Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed, mandated the commissioner of operations and other management staff to go to the residence of the aggrieved pilgrims in Mansoor street and address their concerns. While at the accommodation, the spokespersons of the group, Alhaji Zaharaddeen Usman, Alhaji Alhassan Amman Fagge and Alhaji Musa Aliyu Jahun Magajin Mallam, complained that even their accommodation was far from the Holy Mosque which made it difficult for them to attend congregational prayers unless they pay around N2000 to N10,000. They also complained that because of their secluded location, it was always difficult for them to trek long distance to get food. They said “we endured all these believing that the whole exercise would end within 20 days.” They said as at Sunday, they have exhausted all they had and “feeding was becoming difficult and yet our travel operators have not given us a definite date of return.” In his response, the Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Modibbo Saleh, who sympathised with them over their condition, called on them to be patient as he had personally spoken to their agents who promised to evacuate them. He also promised that if, by Monday, their agents and the air carrier failed to fly them back, NAHCON will find spaces for them in air carriers contracted to return pilgrims who paid through state pilgrims boards. He also said “full scale investigation will be carried out by the Commission later, to ensure redress and justice for all of you.” 

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