As airlift of pilgrims from the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos for the 2017 hajj begins on August 4, the Lagos State government said some intending pilgrims failed medical and pregnancy tests and were consequently barred from taking part in the exercise.
Speaking in Lagos at a meeting of stakeholders for this year’s exercise, the commissioner for home affairs, Dr. Abdulateef Hakeem said a medical screening was conducted for all the intending pilgrims but 18 were barred from travelling based on health and pregnancy issues.
He said some of the intending women pilgrims were found to have been pregnant during the tests but alleged that some aborted the pregnancies and re-appeared for screening.
“It is unfortunate that some of the intending pilgrims whose earlier pregnancy tests showed positive later came back during the second medical check and tested negative. This is unacceptable before God and I told them that it is a big sin before the Lord.
“This only points to one thing that what they are going for has already failed. But, on our part, we are ready and prepared for the exercise and our intending pilgrims have been lectured on dos and don’ts in the holy land.”
Also speaking, the commissioner, southwest of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Imam Faud Adeyemi disclosed that 6,047 pilgrims would be airlifted from the Lagos Zone.
The Lagos Zone is made up of Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Edo states and the Armed Forces.
Adeyemi said Lagos has 2316 pilgrims; Oyo, 1100, Ogun, 1000, Osun, 962, Edo, 294, and the Armed Forces, 375.
He said Nigeria’s Med-View Airline and Saudi Arabia’ FlyNas had been designated to airlift pilgrims from the Lagos Zone to Mecca with the Nigerian carrier starting the airlift on August 4 and FlyNas, August 6 from the same airport.
The commissioner also said a majority of the pilgrims would be airlifted by Med-View Airline while the Saudi carrier would ferry pilgrims from Ogun and the Armed Forces.
Thereafter, Adeyemi said Nigeria is having a serious security challenge which calls for improved security in/around the airport to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
“There is security challenge in the country, generally. Even Lagos is not an exception. For instance, we have the issue of Boko Haram in some parts of the North and the issue of kidnapping…in Lagos.
“All these only go to tell us that security and surveillance at the airport should be enhanced. The security operatives for the exercise must do a thorough job to ensure that everybody that comes into the hajj and cargo area is well-frisked to prevent security breach. So, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the exercise is hitch-free,” said Adeyemi.
In his remarks, the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Saleh Dunoma assured that the agency had readied all the facilities at the airport to forestall hitches.
Dunoma, who was represented by the terminal manager, hajj and cargo, Mr. Asizehi Musa, implored all the security agencies to synergise with and support FAAN’s aviation security personnel in the discharge of their duties.
“On our part, we are ready for the hajj. We are presently putting finishing touches to our facilities that would be used for the exercise and we want to assure all and sundry that we will improve on the 2016 exercise which rated us as number one in the country,” he added.
Meanwhile, Med-View Airline disclosed that it would deploy Boeing 767 to airlift 320 pilgrims, B747 to ferry 460 pilgrims and another B777 to airlift 315 pilgrims for the exercise.