Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto
The National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) Saturday said prospective Nigerian pilgrims who have performed Hajj or Umrah in the last two years are to pay a compulsory levy of 2000 Saudi Riyals, an equivalent of N163,000.
Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, stated this at a sensitisation campaign organised by the Commission for prospective pilgrims and officials of the Pilgrims Welfare Agencies from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States on 2018 Hajj in Sokoto.
He said the levy was exclusive of the substantive fare for the 2018 Hajj exercise, which is yet to be announced by the federal government.
The NAHCON boss, who spoke through the National Commissioner in Charge of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Modibbo Sale, said the campaign was organised to intimate the nation’s prospective pilgrims on the need to ensure the early completion of their hajj fares on or before the end of March, 2018.
He stated that the event was also organised to intimate the prospective pilgrims on the issue of the introduction of biometric data capturing of all Umrah and Hajj pilgrims by the Saudi Arabian authorities.
According to him, the early completion of the payment of the hajj fares by the prospective pilgrims would enable the commission and the various pilgrims welfare agencies, to make early and efficient arrangements.
He disclosed that three centres had been opened in Kano, Lagos and Abuja, for the data capturing, although efforts were on by the commission to ensure the increment of the centres.
Similarly, Mukhtar intimated the Nigerian prospective pilgrims that, the Saudi Arabian authorities had introduced a five per cent Value Added Tax on all services, excluding food items and medical drugs.
In a remark, Chairman of the Forum of Pilgrims Welfare Agencies in Nigeria and Chairman of the Zamfara State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, Abubakar Sarkin Fawa Danbo, commended the commission for organising the event. He said the various pilgrim welfare agencies in Nigeria were working round the clock to ensure the success of the 2018 hajj exercise.
Chairman of the Sokoto State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, Alhaji Muntari Maigona, called on the commission to allow the various states pilgrims welfare agencies to deploy medical doctors and other medical staff to accompany the pilgrims during the forthcoming hajj exercise.
Maigona lamented that, the existing arrangements for feeding should be improved, while the feeding companies should be increased.
Also speaking, the Director General of the Sokoto State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, Alhaji Shehu Mohammed Dange, lauded the commission for organising the sensitisation campaign.