The Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board has reacted to a protest carried out Monday at Alausa, by some persons who claimed to be intending pilgrims.
Some group of persons under who claimed to be intending pilgrims from the state staged a peaceful protest at Alausa, Lagos, against what they described as hike in Hajj fare from N1.3million to N2.5million.
In a statement by the board signed by the Head of Public Affairs, Alhaji Taofeek Lawal, the board said it has established communication with all intending pilgrims from the state and the imperative and detail of the cost of hajj as directed by the regulatory body, National Hajj Commission, NAHCON.
“The Board wishes to say that all our intending pilgrims have been communicated by the Schedule Officers attached to the Local Governments in respect of the increments.
“It is important to note that the increment is totally beyond the control of the Federal or State Governments because Hajj operations which is under the control of the Government of Saudi Arabia is dollar based. The dollar which was exchanged for N306 to one naira in 2019 has now risen to N419 (official rate) in 2022.
“In a meeting with the Chief Executives of States Pilgrims Welfare Boards, Agencies and Commissions in Abuja last Thursday, the NAHCON Chairman/CEO, Alh. Zikhirullah Kunle Hazzan said that the Saudi Arabian authority had increased its Value Added Tax (VAT) from five percent to 15 percent and coupled with the high exchange rate of dollars, everything is bound to be affected.
“Equally important to add is that the new increment of N1,340,000.00 in addition to the N1.3 million initially deposited by our intending pilgrims covers airline tickets (to and fro Saudi Arabia), hotel accommodation, visa procurement, local transportation, PCR test both in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, amongst others.
“Consequently, the Board has no alternative than to act as directed by its regulator in order to make the exercise seamless for our intending pilgrims.
Recall that Lagos State was allocated 1,562 slots while those above 65 years have been excluded in line with Saudi Arabian Government’s directive.