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 N 163,000, the Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria ( NAHCON), has disclosed.
The levy was exclusive of the substantive fare for the 2018 Hajj exercise which is yet to be announced by the federal government.
It should however be noted that, the S2000 levy was imposed by the Saudi Arabian authorities and it is binding on all hajj repeat goers across the Muslim world.
The levy was announced by the Saudi Arabian Hajj Ministry and it became fully effective during the 2017 Hajj exercise.
Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar, disclosed this in Sokoto on Saturday at a sensitization campaign organized by the Commission for prospective pilgrims and officials of the Pilgrims Welfare Agencies from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States on 2018 Hajj.
Barrister Muhkar was represented by the National Commissioner in Charge of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Modibbo Sale.
Barrister Mukhtar averred that, the campaign was organized 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 said that, 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.
According to him, the event was also organized 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.
Barrister Muhktar further said that , three centres have 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.
In the same vein, the National Chairman added that, all prospective pilgrims who had performed the hajj exercise in the last two years must pay a levy of 2000 Saudi Riyals, equivalent of over N 163,000.
Similarly, Alhaji 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.
The Chairman of the Forum of Pilgrims Welfare Agencies in Nigeria and Chairman of the Zamfara State PWA, Alhaji Alhaji Abubakar Sarkin Fawa Danbo, commended the commission for organizing the event.
He said that, the various PWAs jn Nigeria were working round the clock to ensure the success of the 2018 hajj exercise.
The Chairman of the Sokoto State PWA, Alhaji Muntari Maigona, called on the commission to allow the various states pilgrims welfare agencies to allow the states to deploy medical Doctors and other medical staff to accompany the pilgrims during the forthcoming hajj exercise.
On feeding, Alhaji Maigona lamented that, the existing arrangements should be improved, while the feeding companies should be increased.
The Director – General of the Sokoto State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, Alhaji Shehu Mohammed Dange, lauded the commission for organizing sensitization campaign and assured that, the state government , as well as the agency were fully committed to conducting a successful hajj exercise.