No fewer than 238 intending pilgrims in Edo would not make the journey to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 Hajj due to backlog from 2020 to 2023.
Alhaji Ibrahim Oyarekhua, the Chairman, Edo Muslims Pilgrim Welfare Board, told newsmen on Thursday in Benin that the backlog was due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic that stalled Hajj operations for two consecutive years.
According to him, out of the 400 Muslims who showed interest, only 162 slots were available to the state.
The chairman, however, announced that the 162 cleared intending pilgrims would leave Nigeria on Saturday through Lagos to join other Nigerian pilgrims, who were already at the holy land.
“All arrangements have been concluded. Everything is ready; we have distributed sensitive materials – passports and other materials needed for the journey – to them.
“By tomorrow, they will travel to Lagos and undergo COVID-19 test as required by Saudi authority before they leave the country on Saturday”
“We have 400 intending pilgrims who made payment, but because of the backlog of 2020, 2021, and this 2022 due to COVID-19 pandemic, only 162 will be airlifted.
“The backlog has raised the number of intending pilgrims in the state,” he said.
Oyarekhua explained that the board had to apply first paid, first served to select the intending pilgrims.
He asserted that a proper arrangement in terms of hotel accommodation and catering services, among others, had also been made for the pilgrims.
“The Acting governor of Edo, Chief Philip Shaibu, was at the camp yesterday (Wednesday) to address the (intending) pilgrims and admonish them to be of good behaviour while carrying out their activities in the holy land.
“I also join the acting governor to advise the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state and Nigeria by adhering to the rules and regulation of the pilgrimage.
“I will urge them to pray for Nigeria and Edo state so that we can overcome challenges confronting us, especially insecurity among others.
“This journey is a spiritual assignment and they have to commit themselves to the Almighty,” said the chairman.
The Nigerian Army has confirmed that its troops deployed in Shiroro area of Niger were ambushed while on a mission to deal with bandits’ attack on miners in the area.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement on Thursday said the a number of personnel paid the supreme price in the ambush that occurred on Wednesday.
Nwachukwu said the troops had on Wednesday responded to a distress call of bandits attack on people operating a mining site.
He said the troops ran into an ambush staged by the criminal elements on their way to the location losing a number of personnel in fierce firefight that ensued.
According to him, the location has been reinforced and troops are on the trail of the criminals with some already neutralised.
He said the GOC of 1 Division had moved to the location to take charge of the follow on operations.
Nwachukwu said urged well meaning Nigerians to exercise some restraint in posting images emanating from attacks on personnel as some video clips had emanated from the incident.
He urged those posting such to be mindful that our brothers and sisters who might have lost their breadwinners deserved to be properly notified and not to get such information via the media.
“We mention this, mindful of the inalienable rights of citizens to use the social media which is respected.
“It is also necessary to clarify that activities of the criminals was not on any critical national asset or infrastructure.
“Furthermore, the Nigerian army calls on all Nigerians to continue to support the efforts of their military personnel who continue to confront the enemies of our dear nation,” he urged.