The last batch of 315 pilgrims from Lagos State was on Thursday airlifted to Saudi Arabia on board Medveiw airline Boeing 747 for the 2017 holy pilgrimage.
This is contained in a statement issued by Alhaji Olalekan Murisiku, the Media Assistant to Dr AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, the Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs and the State Amirul – Hajj, and made available to The Renaissance on Thursday in Lagos.
He stated that with this seventh flight, Lagos now has a total of 2,333 pilgrims that would be taking part in the Hajj rites which begin in the last week of August.
The statement quoted AbdulHakeem while addressing the pilgrims before they departed, as reminding the pilgrims of the spiritual importance of the holy journey.
AbdulLateef urged the intending pilgrims to represent Lagos State well and to be good ambassadors of Nigeria by obeying every rule in the holy land.
He warned them against helping anybody from holding any items or bags to avoid being implicated by some criminals who may want to conceal illegal or banned contents.
“Let me remind you that death is the reward for dealing in drugs in Saudi Arabia.
“Carry your luggage by yourself; check your luggage from time to time and don’t help people to hold items that are not yours.
“Make sure you can defend what you have in your hands and luggage,” the commissioner said.
The commissioner noted that the flight would take the last batch of pilgrims straight to the King Abdul Azeez International Airport, Madinah and from there to their respective hotels, unlike other previous flights that landed in Jeddah before the pilgrims proceed on another eight-hour journey to Madinah.
The Amirul – Hajj assured pilgrims of improved welfare in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the provisions already put in place by Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to ensure they perform a hitch free Hajj exercise.
The Renaissance gathered that the Amirul – Hajj is still staying back because the Saudi Embassy in Abuja is yet to release the visa and passport of one pilgrim, as he insisted, he would leave Nigeria until that Pilgrim’s visa was ready.
The commissioner announced the Executive Secretary of Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Mufutau Okoya, as the leader of the seventh batch. He prayed for safe flights for the Lagos pilgrims.
Meanwhile, while appraising the preparation for this year Hajj operations, Alhaji Okoya identified increase fees in visa procurement as a major challenge the board encountered.
He explained that the board only knew of the increment information at the point of visa procurement for pilgrims.
“It was very difficult for us to go back and tell about 100 pilgrims, who were affected by the increase of 2,000 Saudi Riyals (N200,000).
“But we thanked Allah that the pilgrims were able to pay the extra cost,” he said.
Okoya urged the pilgrims to pray fervently for themselves, their relatives, Lagos State and Nigeria at large.
The Renaissance gathered that in the composition of the pilgrims, the female pilgrims constituted about 60 per cent of the Lagos contingent to this year Hajj.
By Our Correspondent
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