By Idris Abdulrahman
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Tuesday warned Nigerian prospective pilgrims for this year’s Hajj against taking illicit drugs and prohibited items to Saudi Arabia.
NAHCON Coordinator in Madinah, Alhaji Ahmed Maigari, gave the warning n an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He cautioned Nigerian pilgrims to adhere strictly to Saudi Arabia laws to avoid facing the consequences of violating them.
“Drug careers into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia risk death penalty by being beheaded while those who import Kolanut in commercial quantities face fines of up to 100 Riyals on each piece of the items,” he warned.
Maigari advised pilgrims to also observe the rules, regulations and preaching of Islamic scholars during the exercise, adding that they should strive to be good ambassadors of Nigeria.
The coordinator said prospective pilgrims should prepare for harsh weather in the Holy cities during the Hajj and gave the assurance that the commission, through its personnel on ground, was fully prepared to receive all pilgrims on arrival.
“We have not received any complaint on feeding, accommodation or any other welfare matters from the pilgrims on ground so far and I can assure you that all necessary measures have been taken to sustain or even improve on the high level of welfare of pilgrims.
He urged them to prepare to undergo another round of biometric data capturing on arrival at the Saudi airports, in spite of the screening conducted in Nigeria before take-off.
“The thinking is that since we have done biometric data capturing in Nigeria, the airport authorities will only click their system to view the data, but we had to do it again on arrival,” he said.
Maigari said the commission had met with all relevant authorities, including registered transporters for the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, adding that they gave an insight into the rules and regulations of the operations.
“After listening and inspection of our arrangements, they commended Nigeria’s preparations for this year’s Hajj.”
The coordinator advised pilgrims who might need assistance and guidance to call a NAHCON dedicated line: 920008251 in the Holy land.
NAN reports that the Advance National Team, including the medical and accommodation committees have already arrived ahead of the Hajj, while the first batch of pilgrims from Kogi and the National Media Team landed in Madinah on Friday.