Say: Umrah intending Pilgrims are fully immunised, healthy
Apparently driven by the spiritual need of fulfilling the important pillar of Islam during their lifetime, a number of intending pilgrims from across the country have made a passionate appeal to the government of Saudi Arabia to lift the flight ban on Nigeria in order to visit the Holy land for their spiritual obligation.
Hajj operation managers and other stakeholders from various parts of the country also called for removal of travel restrictions on Nigeria, stating that the authorities should consider the wonderful achievements of the country in containing the pandemic, adding that intending pilgrims from the country have been fully immunised.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia placed travel restrictions on Nigerians intending to visit the country since the outbreak of the Omicron Variant of COVID 19 across the globe some months ago.
It will be recalled that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the federal government made appeals to the Saudi Arabian government to reconsider its suspension of direct Nigeria’s flight into the country.
Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, NAHCON, recently visited the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja, Nigeria solicit suspension of the ban.
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Intending pilgrim, Alani Akorede who said he had registered and paid all his dues since 2020 said the variant which necessitated the action was over. He appealed to the Saudi authorities to suspend the flight ban in the interest of millions of healthy and immunised Nigerians whose desire is to visit the holy land and perform the rites now that they have the wherewithal. “Do you know that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently expressed optimism that worst of latest wave of COVID-19 was over, this is also as many intending Pilgrims have been fully immunised and very healthy for pilgrimage, therefore, we appeal to the authorities to un-ban the flight from Nigeria to Saudi and allow movement to the Holy land provided we have shown readiness to comply with the measures and protocols,” Akorede said.
Also, Imam Abdurrahman Sikoyi from Kogi State lamented that since the authorities gave some people clean bills of health and they performed the rites last year, they should extend the right to others from another nation who have the clean bill of health to perform the rites. The condition above all other considerations should be that medical record or the immunity as they call in Saudi, free from any kind of ailment, irrespective of the country you come from. We have thousands of intending pilgrims in Nigeria who are fit and very healthy but they did not give us the opportunity. We beg that they should reconsider their stand and lift the ban on flight from the country to Saudi.”
A stakeholder in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim in a chat with Vanguard Facing the Kaaba, said: “we have achieved a lot in Nigeria in managing the virus and all intending pilgrims both in 2020 and 2021 have been fully inoculated. They are very sound and healthy; why not give them the opportunity to perform the rites since they are healthy. I join other Nigerians in appealing to the Saudi to remove the restriction and allow Nigeria to participate.”
Another Umrah intending pilgrims who preferred anonymity said the Saudi Ambassador to Nigeria, Faisal bin Ibrahim Alghamdi was in a position to see how healthy Nigerians are, as regard covid-19 and its variants, adding that the achievements the country had made in that regard were enough to remove all travel restriction on its citizens especially when they should evidence of clean bill of health.
“We heard on Wednesday that NAHCON said states should prepare for Hajj, we also beg that those of us prefer to do umrah as this auspicious time and in Ramadan should be allowed. They should lift the travel restriction and allow those who are healthy, free from all ailments and fit to perform umrah the opportunity.
“Ramadan is approaching, a lot of us who are very fit and healthy want to go for Umrah, and we can only beg that they should reconsider their position and remove the travel restriction.