Saudi Arabia restores 95,000 hajj slots to Nigeria

By DADA AYOKHAI

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has approved a total of 95,000 hajj slots for the agency ahead of the 2023 holy pilgrimage.

Mousa Ubandawaki, the NAHCON assistant director, information and publications, said this in a statement on Wednesday. 

According to the statement, Bahauddeen Alwani, the director-general in charge of hajj missions at the Saudi ministry of hajj and umrah, announced the update during a preparatory meeting for hajj via a video conference with NAHCON. 

“The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has granted Nigeria its usual allocation of 95,000 slots in the 2023 holy pilgrimage,” the statement reads. 

“The hopes of many prospective Nigeria pilgrims to perform the 2023 Hajj may have been answered as the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has approved the pre-COVID-19 allocation NAHCON.

“The good news was announced by Bahauddeen Alwani, the Director-General in charge of Hajj Missions at the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, during a preparatory meeting for hajj via a video conference with the Chairman of NAHCON, Malam Zukrullah Hassan.

“Other guidelines released for the 2023 Hajj by the Ministry included the removal of age barrier or limit and cancellation of PCR Test for the Hajj.”

In his remarks, Zukrullah Hassan, NAHCON chairman, expressed gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the restoration of the country’s hajj allocation.

Amid the COVID pandemic, in 2021, Saudi Arabia had reduced the number of slots for pilgrims from Nigeria to 60,000.

In the wake of the outbreak of the Omicron COVID variant, TheCable had also reported that Saudi Arabia, in December 2021, suspended all flights from Nigeria.

The Nigerian government, in January 2022, had asked Saudi Arabia to lift the ban.

In March 2022, the Saudi government lifted the ban on flights from Nigeria alongside other countries.

Hours later, Saudi Arabia also lifted all COVID precautions at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

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