Nigeria: Hajj 2018 - NAHCON Airlifts 35,000 Nigerian Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has airlifted 34,978 pilgrims in 90 flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this year's Hajj exercise.

This was revealed Wednesday by the commission's Command Control Unit.

The unit records and disseminates each airlift from various international Airports in Nigeria.

The airlift of pilgrims, which is being carried out by two local airlines, Max and Medview, and a Saudi Arabian owned Flynas Air, is expected to end this Friday.

Apart from the pilgrims being airlifted from the 36 states, Abuja and the Armed Forces, about 20,000 pilgrims travelling through various private tour operators are also being airlifted by various international airlines.

The Hajj 2018 proper is expected to commence on Sunday with the movement of the nearly two million pilgrims from their various accommodations in Makkah to the tent city of Muna.

The pilgrims are also expected to proceed to the plains of Arafat on Monday where they will spend the whole day in supplication and prayers.

From Arafat, pilgrims are conveyed in buses to Muzdalifa, an open space between Arafat and Muna where they will spend the night.

The two million pilgrims are then expected to proceed to Jamarat, for the first symbolic stoning of the devil ritual.

However, NAHCON's logistics chief, Aliyu Tanko, said the stoning ritual will be done based on turn by turn arrangements.

Mr Tanko who undertook a tour of Muna and inspected the facilities put in place for Nigerian Pilgrims told reporters that "all pilgrims are expected to return to their tents from Muzdalifa and await their turn after which specific guides will lead them along specified routes to the Jamarat".

A stampede in Muna in 2015 led to the death of several pilgrims, some from Nigeria. Since the incident, Saudi Arabian authorities adopted the turn by turn arrangement in order to forestall a repeat of the unfortunate incident.

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