Independent Hajj Reporters, a Civil Society Organisation that reports Hajj and Umrah activities has lamented the unavailability of the 32-page 5-year validity E-passport booklets for Nigerian intending pilgrims for the Hajj 2020.
In a statement signed by its national coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammed on Monday in Abuja, the CSO called on the Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, to ensure availability of the booklets,
According to Mr Mohammed, the scarcity of e-passport is slowing down the registration of intending pilgrims in Nigeria.
“Reports emanating from our members especially in Kaduna, Yobe and Kebbi states show that virtually all intending pilgrims who applied to obtain the e-passport were informed that the e-passport booklet were not available and instead have their data capture and asks to go and wait.
“Most intending pilgrims whose data has been captured are yet to receive the e-passport booklets,” the statement said.
The group also said the importance of timely issuance of E-passport to intending pilgrims is vital to the success of Hajj 2020 and it should be a top priority to all Hajj stakeholders in the country.
“Registration of pilgrims, documentation of pilgrim’s bio-data, processing of visa and issuance of relevant financial and other important Hajj travelling documents are based on the e-passport data page.
“For example, the guideline for Hajj 2020 pilgrim’s registration issued by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), makes e-passport a pre requisite identity document before any intending pilgrim could be registered.
“Item 3.2 (iii) Under registration of intending pilgrims states that intending pilgrims “must be known with valid Nigeria travels documents’ and item (ix) categorically stated that intending pilgrims “must have an e-passport with a validity period of at least 6 months from the date of departure to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“Therefore, we urge the Nigerian Immigration Service and other related government agencies to do all it can to ensure the availability of this important travel document for Hajj 2020 intending pilgrims.”
The IHR lamented that the shortage of e-passport booklet is discouraging some intending pilgrims, especially those from rural areas who are finding it difficult to be transporting to and from NIS offices in search of e-passport.