It has been confirmed that the 2017 annual hajj exercise to Saudi Arabia will take off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos and it is scheduled to commence from August 4, 2017 with a total number of 6,047 pilgrims from the Lagos zone.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has promised that all the facilities to make the exercise hitch-free have been put in place by the government and concerned aviation agencies.
However, feelers from the Lagos State Government disclosed that during screening of pilgrim in preparation for the hajj, 18 candidates were disqualified because they failed medical and medical test, but regretted that some of them later aborted the pregnancies in order to participate in the hajj exercise in Mecca.
The Commissioner, South West of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Iman Faud Adeyemi, who made this known, also disclosed that two airlines Med-View from Nigeria and Fliners from Saudi Arabia would airlift the pilgrims out of the Lagos zone to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The Lagos zone for the pilgrims comprises Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Edo States and those in the armed forces.
Adeyemi gave the breakdown of the pilgrims as Lagos; 2316, Edo; 294, Oyo; 1,100, Ogun; 1,000; Osun; 962 and Armed Forces with 375 pilgrims for the exercise.
He explained that majority of the pilgrims would be airlifted by Med-View Airline while the Saudi Arabian airline would airlift pilgrims from Ogun and those from the armed forces.
According to him, Med-View Airline would commence the airlifting of the pilgrims on August 4 while the Saudi Arabian airline would commence the airlifting of its pilgrims on August 6 from the same airport.
He, however, noted that there is serious security challenge in the country and called on security operatives that would be deployed for the exercise to enhance security at the airport environments and assured that NAHCON would make the exercise enjoyable to all pilgrims.
â€œThere is security challenge in the country generally as we speak now. Even Lagos is not an exception. For instance, we have issues of Boko Haram in some parts of the North and issue of kidnapping in other parts.
â€œAll these only go to tell us that security and surveillance at the airport should be enhanced. The security operatives for the exercise must do a thorough job to ensure that everybody that comes into the hajj and cargo area is well-frisked to prevent breakdown of security at the airport. So, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the exercise is hitch-free,â€ he said.
Also, the representative of the Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, at the meeting, Mr. Asizehi Musa, who is the Terminal Manager, Hajj and Cargo, reiterated the readiness of the agency towards the exercise.
Musa explained that FAAN had activated all the facilities for the smooth running of the exercise, stressing that this would further improve quality service delivery for the pilgrims.
He further implored all security agencies to synergise and support Aviation Security (AVSEC) of FAAN in the discharge of their duties, adding that they should ensure all prohibited items are not smuggled to Saudi Arabia.