The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said that none of the 76,000 pilgrims from Nigeria that performed this year’s Hajj exercise was stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This is coming on the heels of the Commission transportation of over 6,000 pilgrims back home within four days.
In a telephone interview with Malam Uba Mana, the Commission’s spokesperson from Jeddah as well as statement from the Commission on Sunday night, NAHCON said there were no stranded pilgrims from Nigeria.
Apparently responding to allegations of stranded pilgrims from Adamawa State, Mana explained that the returned flight home commenced on Thursday Oct. 9 with the transportation of 496 pilgrims from Kogi State to Abuja through FLYNAS airline.
“In line with the established rules, pilgrims are airlifted back according to the order in which they came into the Kingdom and not the other way round.
“A pilgrim who travelled to the Kingdom on the 25th flight should not expect to be airlifted back home ahead of the pilgrim who travelled on the 5th flight’’, he said.
Mana stated that during the outbound flight to Saudi Arabia, Nigeria pilgrims were transported in over 100 flights through 16 airports spread across Nigeria.
He said for the return journey to Nigeria, all the countries are expected to exit the Kingdom through the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah only.
“For this reason, the Commission maintains a strict policy of “First to arrive Saudi Arabia, first to return back to Nigeria.
“The issue of any of our pilgrims being stranded or abandoned does not arise as their return journeys are planned in line with the outbound journey’’, he said.
Mana said that all the State Pilgrim Welfare Boards were given the flights schedule for their pilgrims well ahead of the commencement of the return airlift by the Commission to enable them prepare their pilgrims for the journey back to Nigeria.
On the number of casualty so far, Mana confirmed that the Commission has lost 21 pilgrims due to natural death while some died due to high blood pressure.