Henceforth, guarantors of pilgrims who refuse to return to Nigeria after hajj exercise will face stiffer penalties.
Disciplinary measures outlined by the National Hajj Commission of Nigerian (NAHCON) against the guarantors of the erring pilgrims include fine of US$3,000 as well as revocation of operation license and blacklist of tour operators in occasion where the guarantors also escape sanction.
Chairman of the Hajj agency, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad who read the riot act yesterday in Kano, at the opening of national workshop organised for states hajj executives ahead of 2019 spiritual journey, said that the commission would not hesitate to met out similar maximum sanction when it affects state pilgrim’s board.
Barrister Abdullahi said the workshop titled “Towards Achieving Acceptable Hajj”, would enable officials cascade messages down to pilgrims in their states.
He warned that NAHCON would not tolerate any act capable of denting the country’s image at the holy land.
The Chairman, represented by NAHCON Commissioner in-charge of operations, Abdullahi Saleh Modibo, equally cautioned pilgrims from rendering unnecessary assistance to fellow pilgrims at the point of departure, as he revealed how innocents were arrested with luggage laid with illegal substance while real owners could not be found.
Abdullahi insisted that the commission would not intervene in case of narcotic or criminal offenses, warning intending pilgrims to abide by rules and regulations guiding hajj rites and laws of Saudi Arabia.
The chairman posited that the era where state chief hajj executive take back seat is over, insisted that executive secretary must remain in close contact to guide their pilgrims at the holy land.
“Hajj management is a trust between the managers and the pilgrims and the way we would not afford to betray the trust, NAHCON will not allow pilgrims to abuse the system. Henceforth, any pilgrim that refuses to return home after all the hajj rites the guarantor will be held responsible with fines of USD$3,000.
“And in the case where the guarantor could not be traced, the tour operator will bear the consequence. Operation licence of such operator will be revoked, blacklisted from hajj and Umrah service and the insurance deposit withheld. Let me warn that this sanction will be extended to state pilgrims board if it affects their pilgrims.”
Head of Inspectorate and Compliance at hajj commission, Dr. Aliyu Tanko however hinted that Saudi Arabia authorities is introducing electronic wrist-band for pilgrims beginning from 2019.
Unlike previous exercise where pilgrims wear robber band which contains personal and nationality details, similar information including visa and passport details, will be programmed on the electronic band.
Part of the new dimension, he added is pilgrims’ movement from Musdalifa to Minna against previous practice where pilgrims move to Jamrat from Musdalifa to carry out mandatory stoning. He said movement would be restricted from 3.am to avoid congestion.
Host and executive secretary, Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Mohammad Abba Zanbatta said 33 Islamic scholars have been engaged to educate intending pilgrims on obligation and rules guiding hajj exercise.