The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, met with members of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHOUN) and some State Pilgrims Welfare Boards’ Executives on issues relating to breach of Saudi immigration laws. The meeting, which was held at the NAHCON head office, was geared towards addressing the current concern and finding a lasting solution to the matter.

Information reached the Commission to the effect that some states and some Licensed Tour Operators had pilgrims that overstayed their visas in the Kingdom, thereby infringing on the Saudi Arabian laws. The Chairman therefore drew the attention of participants to the security risk as well as the bad image the embarrassing situation brings upon the country. He urged all those present to educate their pilgrims on the proper mode of applying for extension of stay visa in Saudi Arabia if needs be.

Barr. Abdullahi Muhammad warned that any state under which this contravention persists risks having its license downgraded or withdrawal of a Tour Operator’s license; in addition to possible prosecution of defaulters in accordance with the laws of the land.

To tackle this menace, the following measures are considered:

·     Further enlightenment of pilgrims on consequences of overstaying in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

·     Downgrading of license of any state found to be involved in this activity.

·     Revoking of Tour Operator’s license if found negligent.

·     Introduction of guarantor forms for pilgrims under Licensed Tour Operators in 2019 Hajj registration.

The Chairman reiterated NAHCON’s resolve never to tolerate any agency that will violate Saudi Arabia’s regulations, as it is the Commission’s responsibility to safeguard terms and conditions of engagement contained in the Memorandum of Understanding to which NAHCON is a signatory.

Responding on behalf of Licensed Tour Operators, the immediate past President of AHUON, Alhaji Abdulfatah Abdulmojeed, and the Acting President of the association, Alhaji Salisu Butu, appreciated the manner in which NAHCON carried everyone along in its activities and how it sought for contributions from all members. They urged all AHOUN members to do the needful in addressing issues raised during the gathering.

Fatima Sanda Usara,

Head, Public Affairs Division,