The return journey of Nigeria’s 55,000 pilgrims who performed this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia begins on Monday, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said.
Its Director of Operations, Abdullahi Saleh, announced this on Sunday in Jeddah after a meeting with the airline operators.
He said the operation would be concluded within the same period it took to transport pilgrims from Nigeria “except there is any circumstance that warrants extension like an emergency”.
He said NAHCON and the air carriers would adhere to the initial sequence of pilgrims journey to the Holy land, to be fair in discharging the duty.
“The tradition of first come, first return will be observed as a principle and in line with the Saudi guidelines for fairness and equity,” he said.
He appealed to pilgrims and the operators to conduct the homebound journeys orderly, adding that the handlers had indicated their readiness for the operation.
Meanwhile, Max Air, one of the airlines, said it was ready to commence the return journey.
Managing Director of the airline Shyam Manwani , said the company had already transported the pilgrims’ holy water (Zamzam) to Nigeria during the first phase.
It will be distributed to pilgrims on return to the airports in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inaugural flight from Nigeria began on July 21 with 446 Kogi pilgrims and the return flight is expected to take the same shape.
Three carriers, MAX Air Limited, Flynass and Medview are involved in the exercise.