NATIONAL Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has opened up on Nigerian pilgrims arrested in Saudi Arabia during 2016 the Hajj exercise, saying those arrested left Nigeria through the Ilorin International Airport.
NAHCON spoke against the backdrop of the purported ban of pilgrims’ airlift from the Ilorin International airport ahead of the 2017 hajj operations. The commission said though it had no intention to ban pilgrims’ airlift from the Ilorin airport, it however, expressed concern that most of the pilgrims arrested for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia came in through the Ilorin International Airport.
The NAHCON’s Ilorin Zonal office comprises the intending pilgrims from Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara being airlifted from the Ilorin Airport for the annual holy pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. NAHCON’s Head of Corporate Affairs, (Media Unit) ,Hajia Fatima Mustapha, made the clarifications while fielding questions from journalists in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State at the weekend. Mustapha was in Ilorin with the commission’s Media Officer, Alhaji MousaUbandawaki and other national officers to pay a visit to the Former Director in the old Nigeria Pilgrims Commission, Ambassador Abdulkadir Imam.
The NACHON’S image maker said the commission did not yet ban pilgrims’ airlift from the Airport , but was putting a drastic measure in place to checkmate drug trafficking associated with airport in the recent times. She expressed the hope that the measure put in place would address the challenges before the commencement of pilgrims’ airlift for the 2017 hajj operations.
‘Most of the people arrested for drug traffickers in Saudi Arabia, we discovered they came from Kwara. We are not saying they are Kwarans but maybe there is connivance. May be the airport is porous, may be the equipment are obsolete and cannot detect drug’’, Hajia Mustapha said. The NAHCON’s spokesperson said the commission was collaborating with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ,NDLEA, National Orientation Agency, NOA, and other relevant agencies to enlighten intending pilgrims on illegal practices they must shun.
She said ‘‘ A drama on the dangers and ills associated with drug trafficking’’ will be staged during enlightenment campaigns for intending pilgrims. Hajia Mustapha added that the commission was also embarking on e-registration of pilgrims to beat those who might want to engage in sharp practices. To ensure a hitch free 2017 exercise, Mustapha said the commission chairman will soon embark on pre-hajj visit to Saudi Arabia to start preparation on issues of accommodation, transportation and other challenges experienced during the last hajj exercise
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