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Published On: Sun, Sep 21st, 2014

Hajj: Anxiety in Kaduna zone over flights suspension

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•No need to panic- NAHCON

From Muhammad Ibrahim, Kaduna

Anxiety and panic has ensued among Kaduna State intending pilgrims over suspension of flights in the zone by National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) last Friday.

Reports said no reason was given for the suspension and that created panic as some pilgrims already screened for the journey refused to vacate Hajj camp as advised by the state pilgrim’s board, pending when flights resume in the state.

Peoples Daily gathered that intending pilgrims from 5 out of the 23local government areas of Kaduna state were stranded as they await NAHCON to commence airlifts.

“We didn’t know the reason for the suspension of flight in the zone. As you can see, most of our friends have already left for the Holy Land, while we were left here stranded. We are appealing to NAHCON to return the flights before it’s too late for us to travel, “a stranded pilgrims said.

“This is the first time they suspended airlift of pilgrim’s midway during operations. No convincing reason was given to us as staff of the State Welfare Pilgrims Board. In fact, we don’t know what is happening,” a staff of the board who pleaded anonymity said.

So far, it was gathered that over four thousand out of 5,760 registered intending pilgrims from the state have since been airlifted to Madinah while over one thousand seven hundred pilgrims remain to be airlifted from the state.

Plateau state intending pilgrims too are expected to be airlifted through Kaduna Zone and so far because of the suspension of flights they were also stranded without knowing when they will be airlifted to the holy land.

Peoples Daily investigation further revealed that on two occasions, Plateau State Muslim Pilgrims requested for a shift of the airlift of its  pilgrims due to lack of preparations for the journey.

Contacted, Kaduna State Pilgrims Welfare Board’s Public Relation officer, Malam Yunusa Mohammad Abdullahi said no reason was given from NAHCON for the suspension of flights apart from a text message sent to the board’s Overseer, Alhaji Kabir Kasimu by the NAHCON Zonal Coordinator, Alhaji Ahmad Muttaqa Coomassie informing him of the suspension.

This is why the intending pilgrims from the zone pleaded with all those that matter to as a matter of urgency return flights to the zone so as to airlift them to Saudi Arabia.

Also contacted the NAHCON Zonal Coordinator, Alh. Ahmad Muttaqa Coomassie said he was not entitled to speak except NAHCON’s Head of Media, Uba Mana.

However, when contacted, Alhaji Mana said there is no need for panic because no pilgrims will be left behind.

According to him, the delay was for the benefit of the state pilgrim’s board and Airlines carriers as it enables both parties to get fully prepared.

Mana added that by the time the airlifts continue in the zone it would be a straight forward operation.

“We are appealing for pilgrims not to panic as they will all be airlifted to Saudi for the hajj before end of this week. We still have time to beat the deadline set by Saudi Authority,” he said.

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