From Scholastica Hir, Makurdi


The Executive Secretary of Benue State Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Alhassan Ahmadu, has disclosed that about 95 intending pilgrims from the State have registered for this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.


Ahmadu who disclosed this while speaking to newsmen in his office in Makurdi, on Tuesday, said the intending pilgrims were all self-sponsored.


According to him, the State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia is yet to speak to the board regarding release of funds and sponsorship of government pilgrims from the State.


He however said despite government’s posture towards the spiritual journey, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) had scheduled May 25 and 26, 2024 for Benue intending pilgrims to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj operations.


“Government has not release a dime to the board for preparation and taking off of the journey.


“Not more than 95 pilgrims from Benue State registered for this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca. The board has put all necessary arrangements on ground.


“The people going for the pilgrimage are self-sponsored. There is no government sponsored candidate(s) yet as at today. We have been making frantic efforts to see the governor and brief him about the progress made so far towards the exercise.

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“The other day, we were in his private residence from 10am to 3am the next day but we couldn’t meet with him. Today, I have just been called to come to government house. So, am going there to see what will happen.


“But despite this challenge, Benue Pilgrims have been scheduled for airlift by NAHCON on May 25 to 26, 2024”, Ahmadu said .


Recall that National Hajj Commission of Nigerian, on March 24, 2024, announced additional increase of N1.9 million to the registration of pilgrims.


Before the increase, the commission had asked intending pilgrims for the 2024 Hajj to pay a total of N4.9 million. The latest increase thus raised the new amount to N6.8 million for those who have been making deposits in installments.


NAHCON on March 24, 2024 announced that fresh depositors from the north would have to cough out N8.2 million, while their counterparts will pay N8.4 million.


The deadline for all the payments, according to NAHCON  was Thursday March 28, 2024.


Ahmadu could not confirm whether all the 95 intending pilgrims from the State met the condition set by NAHCON.