Priority given to first timers.
About 325 intending Muslim pilgrims from Plateau State will not be allowed to participate in the 2013 pilgrimage to Mecca following new laws imposed by the National Hajj Commission.
The state secretary of the Muslim welfare board, Salisu Musa, in a press briefing in Jos, said the cut was due to a 20 per cent reduction globally by the Saudi Arabian Government of the number of people performing this year’s hajj owing to ongoing construction work on the Holy Mosque of Ka’aba in Mecca.
Mr. Musa explained that at a meeting of the National Hajj Commission in Abuja, it was agreed that any intending pilgrim that had once performed the Hajj is automatically disqualified with priority given instead to “new timers.” As a result, the 1,625 seats allotted to Plateau was reduced by 325.
Mr. Musa added that, however, the fresh would-be pilgrims would still have to undergo screening by the Ulama Screening Committee and that those who fail the test on their knowledge of Islam and the tenets of Hajj would not be allowed to go.
He also stated that of the old timers- those who have performed the Hajj in a previous year- only welfare officials, ulamas, and medial workers who apply will be allowed to perform the Hajj again.
Mr. Musa then debunked speculations that the board will charge intending pilgrims some additional funds as screening expenses, saying that the screening exercise is free of charge and that any officer caught fraudulently collecting money from would-be pilgrims will prosecuted.