The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, said on Saturday that the commission retained its 95,000 slots for intending pilgrims for the 2020 hajj exercise.
This is contained in a statement made available to journalists on Saturday in Abuja by the Head of Public Affairs of NAHCON, Fatima Usara.
She said the agreement was reached during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, and Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah Affairs, Saleh Benten.
She said the MoU was signed on December 5, ahead of the 2020 Hajj exercise.
“Prior to the signing event, Ambassador Dada conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s gratitude to King Salman Bin AbdulAziz and the Saudi Arabian authorities for compensating families of five dead and six injured Nigerians affected in the 2015 crane crash accident in Makkah, ” she said.
The minister, according to her, also expressed the gratitude of President Muhammadu Buhari for the hospitality and support being enjoyed by Nigerian pilgrims.
Mr Dada, she said, further conveyed the president’s request to Saudi Arabia to assist NAHCON in every way possible, and to support its regulatory role in terms of pilgrims’ airlift to the Kingdom.
Abdullahi Saleh, the representative of the acting chairman of NAHCON and acting commissioner of Operations, also expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Affairs for its continued support and cooperation.
Mr Benten, who led the Saudi delegation to the signing ceremony, said Nigeria had witnessed tremendous progress in hajj and umrah operations.
The statement said that “part of the agreement reached for 2020 Hajj includes a strong reminder on the e-track registration guideline.
“The leader of the Saudi delegation re-emphasised that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj will not recognise any contractual agreement or payment done outside the e-track portal.
“Such is considered illegal and will not be recognised by the Kingdom.
The statement attributed the disclosure of the reminder to that country‘s Vice Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr Abdul Fatah Mishat, during a technical discussion session preparatory to the MoU signing ceremony.
“Pilgrims could pay an optional 100 Saudi Riyals or more as insurance cover for any accidents, loss of property and other risks they may face while on hajj.
“However, this does not include medical care as the Kingdom grants free health care to every pilgrim while in the holy land.
“On the clarification on visa fees, the delegation declared that the amount charged is 300 Riyals for all types of visas,” the statement added.
It also said the validity of the Umrah and visit (tourism) visas do not extend to the Hajj period.
“Issuance of such visas ends shortly before the onset of Hajj season,” it further said.
Mr Mishat, according to the statement, also commended NAHCON for its effort in controlling visa violation and incidence of pilgrims absconding in the Kingdom.
He assured NAHCON that the Kingdom would construct additional 60,000 toilets in order to address the shortage of toilets during hajj operations.