Independent Hajj Reporters, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, has advised the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, to create guidelines for the registration of 2021 intending pilgrims, that were in conformity with COVID-19 protocols.
The CSO gave the advice in a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, on Sunday, in Abuja.
The group said the call became necessary because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was keenly observing hajj registration processes in all hajj participating countries, to determine which countries may be selected or denied participation.
The CSO stressed the need for NAHCON to formulate Hajj 2021 tentative guidelines adaptable to CoOVID-19 Hajj framework, as obtained in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The statement said: “We observed that States’ Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards that are currently registering intending pilgrims for 2021 hajj are using the 2019 guidelines, without recourse to the COVID-19 Umrah template guidelines issued by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
“We further noticed that States’ Pilgrims Boards that commenced Hajj 2021 registration, so far harp on only e-passport, amount to be paid as deposit and banning of payment by proxy.
“On the prevailing conditions of COVID-19 at the time of Hajj, NAHCON and States’ Muslim Pilgrims Boards should take Hajj 2021 as a special arrangement with new rules and regulations” including ,” Eligibility criteria, age restrictions, Health and Fitness factors during Registration of pilgrims.”
The CSO noted that Hajj health experts had agreed with the stance of Saudi Arabia to only allow intending pilgrims that have sound health, without any underlying sicknesses like a heart condition, diabetes, respiratory disorders, pregnancies, and other serious illnesses for Hajj 2021.
The group recalled that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had in November 2020, released new guidelines for pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia coming to perform Umrah, with the major highlights being age restrictions and health requirements.
“A situation where each state Muslim pilgrims boards adopt different registration processes, without any mention of COVID-19 compliance is not healthy for Hajj 2021.
“Such guidelines should connote age limit, health status, observing COVID-19 protocol at the venue of the registration, and minimum amount of deposit states can collect, pending official announcement of the exact cost of Hajj 2021.”