As many as 150 future pilgrims from Oyo State will not perform the 2022 Hajj due to visa denial by Saudi authorities.
Chairman of the Oyo State (Muslim Wing) Pilgrim Welfare Board, Prof. Sayed Malik revealed this while speaking to reporters in Ibadan on Monday.
According to him, the denial of visas to prospective pilgrims concerned by the Saudi authority at the 11th hour was based on the recommendation of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.
He explained that 629 of the 43,000 slots allocated to Nigeria have been allocated to Oyo State to perform the 2022 Hajj, despite the fact that more than 1,000 Muslims have already registered to perform the hajj.
“To make up for the shortfall, we in the Oyo State Pilgrim Welfare Council have applied for additional slots from NAHCON.
“And this was granted as 150 additional slots were allocated to Oyo State, increasing the state slots from 629 to 779.
“Based on its correspondence with NAHCON, the Oyo State Pilgrim Welfare Board has made arrangements for 779 pilgrims.
“But the state slot was reduced to 629 a few days before the pilgrims were supposed to go to the holy lands.
“The council hereby regrets that approximately 150 prospective pilgrims from the state were unable to perform this year’s hajj,” he said.
The President recalled that the sacred exercise had not been held for two years as there had been no pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in 2020 and 2021 due to the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic .
He explained that the resumption of Hajj in 2022 was characterized by a sharp increase in the number of future pilgrims who wanted to embark on the holy pilgrimage.
Malik, however, said state governor Seyi Makinde had approved payment of the full funds to anyone among those affected who intended to get their money back.
He assured those wishing to use their money for the 2023 pilgrimage that they would be the first to be considered for the exercise.
The president said these people would not make any additional payments to what they had made this year.
He further announced that the council had pledged to pay Basic Travel Allowances (BTAs) in full to all pilgrims, saying that none of the pilgrims would be harmed or that the funds for payment of their BTAs would not be diverted.
“The truth is that there have been delays in publishing BTA to the board due to the late publication of the circular guiding the payment of compensation by the authorities.
“It is not peculiar to pilgrims from Oyo State as all pilgrims across the states face the same situation.
“Due to the delay, the first group of pilgrims from Oyo State and several other states in the federation had to undertake the journey to Saudi Arabia before the BTA could be secured.
“The delay, however, does not indicate that any of the pilgrims would lose their rights.
“By the time the second group of pilgrims left Nigeria, only a fraction of the entire BTA had been secured and it was concluded that each of the pilgrims should receive $400 while those already in Saudi Arabia received $200. dollars each. , pending the release of the full BTA.
“It should be noted that the scarcity of the dollar which has hit the forex market is a key factor in the delay in obtaining the required BTA.
“While BTA’s late payment is regretted, we must affirm that there is no intention to misappropriate anyone’s right or to deny any of the pilgrims their due,” he said. .
Giving an update on the airlift of pilgrims from the state, the President said the first group consisting of 259 pilgrims was airlifted to Saudi Arabia on June 19 while the second group consisting of 81 pilgrims was flown. was airlifted on June 22.
He said the third group comprising 238 pilgrims was flown to the Holy Land on July 2 and the last group of 60 pilgrims would be airlifted on Monday July 4.