The Lagos State Government may not sell forms to intending Pilgrims planning to embark on the Hajj 2022 Holy pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Honourable Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi, disclosed the development at a Press Conference organised to formally react to the cancellation of the year 2021 Hajj exercise for foreign pilgrims by the Saudi Arabian Government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained that Lagos already has 3,016 intending pilgrims that have formally registered and fully paid their deposits for the already cancelled Y2020/2021 hajj exercises, pointing out that unless the Saudi Arabian Authority and National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) give the State additional slots, it might not be feasible selling forms for additional persons outside those already registered.
Elegushi further stated that only 69 intending pilgrims or approximately 2.24 per cent of those for the Y2020/2021 sets have written to request for refund of the money deposited while the remaining 3,016 or approximately 97.76 per cent have willingly decided to leave their deposits in the custody of the State Government for the Y2022 exercise.
He affirmed that the request for refund by the 69 affected persons has been processed and the money will be paid immediately Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu gives approval.
While confirming that the Y2022 Hajj operation would commence in the State before the end of December 2021, Elegushi urged all the 3,016 intending pilgrims to have faith and trust that everything will be done to protect their interest.
Answering a question on why the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board focuses only on Umrah (lesser hajj) during Ramadan and not the year round, the Commissioner said that the Board is working towards getting the International Air Transport Association (IATA) licence to fully operate for Umrah throughout the year and assured that once this is achieved, the Board will operate at full scale.
On the prospect of the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS) launched in Lagos by Mr. Governor in December 2020, Prince Elegushi reported that 164 intending pilgrims have embraced the Lagos State scheme by opening an account with the accredited bank, adding that the effort has placed the State in a prominent position amongst others in Nigeria.
He also emphasised that the scheme is a collaborative effort with NAHCON, other States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and Jaiz Bank Plc. (the official banker), adding that people can contribute as much as they can until they are able to meet the Hajj fare.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr. Rahman Ishola expressed his appreciation to the Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu; his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat and the Commissioner, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi, for their unflinching support to the Board.
Also in attendance at the press briefing held at the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, was the Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic Matters, Mr. Ahmad Abdullahi-Jebe and other officials of the Board.