By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
All Muslims intending to perform this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia have up to before the month of Ramadan 2018 to register their intentions and pay their Hajj fares before the expiration of the deadline set by the Saudi Arabian government.
Similarly, the government of Saudi Arabia has directed that all persons who have performed the hajj exercise in the last five years and are intending to perform this year’s pilgrimage are to pay additional levy of 200 Saudi Riyadh as part of the new measures introduced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian government has also directed that all intending Muslim pilgrims must have their biometric data captured to ensure strict compliance to the rules set by the authorities for all intending pilgrims.
The National Commissioner incharge of Policy, Personel Management and Finance of the National Hajj Commission, Dr. Yusuf Adebayo Ibrahim disclosed in Minna that the Saudi Arabian government has set up three centres for the capturing of the biometrics of all intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year.
The National Commissioner was in Minna for a meeting with officials of the Niger State pilgrims welfare board. He disclosed that the three data capturing centres are located in Abuja, Lagos and Kano.
He said it was now a prerequisite that all persons performing religious pilgrimages to the holy land must have their personal biometrics be captured.
He also revealed that the Saudi government has introduced a 5% value added tax, (VAT) on all transactions in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage by all persons performing pilgrimage.
Dr. Adebayo Ibrahim explained that the new measures were introduced by the Saudi Arabian government to check certain sharp practices by some unpatriotic Nigerians performing pilgrimage.
He advised that since the Saudi Arabian government said it would, by the end of May, close the portal for registration of all intending pilgrims, it was incumbent upon all persons who want to perform this year’s holy pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to pay ahead of the dateline set.
The Director of Pilgrims Operations at the Niger state Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Attahiru Bala Duku disclosed that tentatively, all intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia have been asked to deposit the sum of N1.5 million as initial payment for their hajj fares.
He said the compulsory biometrics finger prints capturing was part of the new rules laid down by the National Hajj Commission in line with the stipulations by the Saudi Arabian government.
No fewer than 1,450 Muslims from Niger State performed the 2017 Hajj exercise.