Anambra, C’River, Ebonyi, Abia Pilgrims Arrive in Saudi Arabia

- Olawale Ajimotokan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Pilgrims from Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi and Abia states have been airlifted to Jeddah to participat­e in this year’s Hajj exercise in Saudi Arabia.

They were among the 301 intending pilgrims and officials from FCT, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna, Delta and Enugu States who departed Abuja yesterday morning aboard a Flynas XY5821 flight.

Giving the breakdown of the (pilgrims) passengers, the Command and Control Centre of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said there were 25 intending pilgrims from Anambra State, 42 from Cross River State, 74 from Ebonyi State and eight from Abia State.

There were also 17 from the FCT, while Sokoto State had 11, Zamfara State 22, Kaduna State 55 and Delta State 28. Enugu State had 19 intending pilgrims and 86 officials.

Their arrival has increased the number of Nigerians in Saudi Arabia for the annual Islamic spiritual rites to 44,450.

NAHCON also confirmed it had supervised 93 flights in total for the Hajj, in addition to completing the first phase of the airlift operation of the Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

In the same regard, NAHCON representa­tive, Dr. Aliu Tanko, and Saudi officials have brainstorm­ed on the modality for the transporta­tion of pilgrims throughout the major activities of Hajj rites which will begin next Friday to Tuesday next week.

About two million pilgrims from around the world presently in Saudi Arabia will supplicate on the plains of Mount Arafat next Saturday for the climax of the religious rites.

The fact that the largest number of pilgrims from sub-Saharan Africa are from Nigeria has also warranted the Saudi authoritie­s to dedicate a road to Nigeria at Musdalifah, the transit point the pilgrims are expected to board buses back to Mina after leaving Arafat after sunset on August 10.

THISDAY checks, however, revealed that as part of measures to stem transporta­tion hitches, the Saudi authoritie­s will limit the number of buses to be deployed on the road at the same time by the Nigerian contingent­s.

For instance, it was gathered that FCT, which was allotted 40 buses to convey its pilgrims to Mina last year, will only be assigned seven buses for the same exercise this year.

All the Nigerian pilgrims’ welfare boards will move their pilgrims in batches to forestall rowdiness along the road.

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