FG: 9,658 Nigerian Pilgrims Return Home as Saudi Issues Sept 14 Deadline

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Mecca

The federal governmemt Monday declosed that 9,658 of the 65,000 pilgrims that performed the Hajj in Saudi Arabia this year have been airlifted to the country since the in bound airlifting of Nigerian pilgrims that performed the Islamic religious rites began on August 17.

The fast tracking of the airlifting process is in the light of the
deadline of September 14 by the Saudi Arabian authority that all pilgrims that performed the hajj must return to their countries as King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah will cease attending to hajj pilgrims after the expiration of the deadline.

The Head, Public Affairs National Hajj Commission of Nigera (NAHCON), Fatima Sanda Usara, in a statement on Monday, said that two airline operators, Max Air and FlyNas had operated a total of 21 flights from Jeddah that conveyed the pilgrims back to Nigeria.

Distribution of the flights so far shows Max Air has conveyed 5,428 pilgrims in 11 trips, while FlyNas on its part transported 4,306 pilgrims in 10 flights.

Max Air has conducted flights to Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Kogi, and Nasarawa States in addition to a special flight to the Federal Capital Territory.

The special flight conveyed few pilgrims and officials that formed the advance team of officials into Saudi Arabia from the national medical, media and Ulama teams as well as some NAHCON staff on essential duties.
Meanwhile, FlyNas has conducted flights to Lagos, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto and Osun States. It also conveyed some pilgrims from Oyo, Ogun, Cross River, Delta, Abia and Edo states back to Nigeria.