Hajj 2018: Group wants biometric centres in 774 local govts

Hajj pilgrims travelling after being cleared by NAHCON
Hajj pilgrims

The Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation, has said that facilities for the newly introduced compulsory data capture of intending pilgrims ahead of the Hajj 2018 should be established in all the 774 local governments across Nigeria.

In the past, pilgrims’ bio-metrics are captured on arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Authorities, however, changed the policy this year.

In Nigeria, a firm VFS, was contracted to conduct the biometrics in only three centres, Abuja, Kano and Lagos.

The decision has led to setback for umrah (lesser hajj) pilgrims who are made to travel to any of the three centres and spend days waiting to be attended to.

“About 80 to 85 per cent of pilgrims from Nigeria come from rural areas and are mostly farmers. To successfully capture the biometric data of all hajj pilgrim requires having data capture centres in all the 774 local governments,” a statement Monday by the civil society’s national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed and publicity secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had recently raised concern over the hardship being faced by Nigerian intending pilgrims over the new biometric policy when the Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Abdullahi Mohammed briefed him on the preparations for 2018 hajj.

The group said apart from Nigeria, other countries with high number of pilgrims, such as Pakistan had also officially protested the decision.

“The hajj and umrah tour operators in Nigeria also expressed their concern saying the policy has exposed its intending pilgrims to various challenges,” it said.

The group added that “a large number of people who wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform their religious ritual had been inconvenienced by the new policy as they had to spend days in Abuja, Kano or Lagos for their biometric verification, wasting precious time and resources.

Advertisement

nlng Campaign AD

“Since only Kano, Abuja and Lagos have the data capture centres, we wonder how the three centres will cater for a country with 95,000 hajj and over 1.5 million umrah pilgrims,” the group said.

“We are concerned that our pilgrims will be subjected to serious hardship unless the government of Saudi Arabia suspends this policy in the interest of the Muslim ummah,” the statement said.

The statement also said: “since the Saudi security officials have to screen and capture biodata of all pilgrims on arrival, it is our opinion that such biometric records should be used for whatever security or other purposes this new policy is intended to achieve.

”While we acknowledge the enormous security and logistic challenges faced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in her quest to make hajj a memorable experience for pilgrims, we urge them to consider the implication of this policy on the millions of Muslims who may be discouraged from fulfilling their fifth pillar of Islam.”

Advertisement

PT Mag Campaign AD

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: This space is available for a Text_Ad.. Call Willie on +2347088095401 for more information


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.