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Saudi Arabia lifts ban on direct flights from Nigeria

The Saudi Arabia authorities have announced the lifting of direct travel ban from Nigeria into the kingdom, effective from March 5.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, disclosed this in a statement by its spokesperson, Fatima Sanda-Usara, who quoted a circular released by the kingdom’s General Authority for Civil Aviation, GACA.

According to the statement, a near total cancellation of covid-19 restrictions were also announced, indicative of a return to regularity.

The statement, however, noted that the only requirement for entry into the Kingdom is full vaccination with the accompanying registration on Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps as gateway.

“Accordingly, intending pilgrims for Umrah from Nigeria and other similarly banned countries are permitted to travel directly into Saudi Arabia so long they fulfil the mandatory vaccines requirement,” the statement noted.

The statement further quoted the NAHCON Chairman, Zikrullah Kunle-Hassan, as rejoicing with Muslims in Nigeria and the world over, over the return of normal worship in the two Holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah.

He said: “Indeed, it has been two years of agonizing deprivation for those to whom Saudi Arabia is not just a home of worship but also a means of livelihood.”

Mr Hassan, however, noted that the Kingdom’ s decisions on matters of Hajj and Umrah have always been in the interest of the Muslim world and the generality of humanity, no matter how difficult the decision might seem.

While giving gratitude to the Almighty, the NAHCON Chairman commended the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, “for this brave move to the Muslim ummah despite the pandemic challenges”.

“Consequently, with the heightened hope that international Hajj would be open in the 2022, NAHCON is seizing this opportunity to inform the public that guidelines for participation in the Hajj shall be communicated to Nigerian intending pilgrims after signing of the MoU between NAHCON and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah,” the statement added.

The NAHCON Chairman, therefore, advised Nigerian intending pilgrims to be law-abiding whenever they travel out of the country for Hajj or Umrah.

“Though Nigerian intending pilgrims’ response to COVID-19 vaccination was impressive, yet anyone wishing to embark on Hajj and Umrah is to remember that full vaccination is required as a safety precaution for himself and residents of Saudi Arabia as well as fellow Muslim travelers to the holy land for worship.

“They are thus reminded that unmet vaccine requirement may lead to quarantine and or other penalties.

“Intending pilgrims are also reminded to desist from travelling with prohibited items into the Kingdom such as illicit drugs and kola nuts. They should recall that penalty for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death.

“Besides, NAHCON is in full collaboration with NDLEA and other interrelated agencies in ensuring that such persons are apprehended before embarking on the trip,” the statement added.

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