The Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board on Friday announced March 31 as deadline for payments of 2018 Hajj fares.
Musbau Okoya, Executive Secretary of the board, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the deadline became necessary to prevent challenges associated with late preparation.
“The challenges of the 2017 Hajj mainly had to do with late preparations.
“The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has directed that by March 31, payments for 2018 Hajj must have come in.
“By that time we shall close the portal and all payments are expected to get to Saudi Arabia by April; and it is important to emphasise that there would be no extension.
“We urge all our intending pilgrims to make efforts to ensure that they beat the March deadline,” he said.
Okoya assured that the board was making adequate plans for the comfort of the Lagos Pilgrims.
“We appreciate the challenges we experienced during the 2017 Hajj and we are making adequate preparation to ensure that the 2018 exercise is better organised.
“Lagos State has allocation of 2004 seats and we are making adequate plans to cater adequately for all of them,” he said.
He said that the tentative fare for the 2018 Hajj was N1.35million which could be subject to slight upward or downward review, if necessary.
“As of now, NAHCON has not approved the final Hajj fare but pilgrims are required to make a deposit of N1.35million pending the final approval by Jan.31.
“The board will make refund if the approved fare is lower than the deposit, while the intending pilgrim will be required to make up the difference if the fare is higher.
“But I can assure you that the difference, if any, will not be prohibitive or out of reach for the intending pilgrims,” he said.
The executive secretary said that pilgrims who had earlier performed Hajj between 2015 and 2017 would be required to pay an additional fee of 2000 Saudi Riyals to perform the forthcoming exercise.
Okoya said pregnant women were not eligible to perform the pilgrimage, urging all intending pilgrims from Lagos to meet all requirements for the exercise.
“As a way of encouraging first time pilgrims, the Saudi Arabian authorities have stipulated that those who have been to Hajj between 2015 and now will be required to pay additional 2000 Riyals.
“Pregnant women are also not qualified to perform the Hajj because of the rigours of the exercise and the effect it could have on the unborn child.
He urged all intending pilgrims to ensure that their relevant documents were up to date.