Intending Muslim Pilgrims Demand Refund After Nigerian Commission Raised Hajj Fees To N6.8million

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Nigerian Muslim pilgrims who had earlier paid for a trip to Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj have started demanding for refund after the country’s Hajj Commission instructed them to pay another N1.9million.

Recall that the commission on Sunday increased the fare for this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia by N1,918,032.91 while setting a deadline of March 28, 2024.

It had in December 2023 fixed a fare of N4.9million per pilgrim based on an exchange rate of N897 to a dollar.

However, in its recent announcement on Sunday, the commission asked those who had paid the initial amount to add N1.9million, raising the total amount to N6.8million.

The announcement, however, surprised potential pilgrims, the bulk of whom had begun contacting their pilgrims’ boards to request a refund of the N4.9million deposit.

According to pilgrims boards across the North and South of the country, only a few intending pilgrims have begun topping up, while many intended pilgrims have requested a refund because they cannot afford the remaining N1.9million.

However, expressing concern, an intending pilgrim, Mustapha Ahmad based in Kano, said while he envisaged going to hajj even once in his lifetime, he got the opportunity this time around through a loved one whom he could not go back to with the news of increment.

The case is almost the same with Hafsat Yusuf, who got involved with colleagues to raise her hajj fare.

She said: “I am even speechless, we are waiting for the Kano Pilgrims’ Board to announce their own increment but I don’t know how to go about it.

“I spent almost a year saving into contributions with friends. I received mine, sold a plot of land and paid for hajj. Now, what am I going to sell again or where would I go to get money to pay the balance? God will provide but we are in a state of confusion and only God knows how many of us could be able to afford the increment.”

Another intending pilgrim from the state, Hajiya Rakiya Abubakar, said she could not sleep when she heard the news about the increment of hajj fares.

“When I heard the news of the increment, I couldn’t sleep. I am thinking of where to find the money to complete the payment. This is incredible,” Rakiya said.

In Kwara and Lagos State, sources at the pilgrims’ boards in these states said many people have turned up to seek a refund, saying they would not be able to raise the balance.

“As I am talking to you, not more than 50 people have turned up to pay the balance today and we have just two days after today (Monday) for intending pilgrims to complete the money,” a source told Daily Trust.

One of the intending pilgrims, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “All along I have been praying that NAHCON would not announce an increment in fare but alas, this is a bitter pill to swallow, I doubt if I would still be able to go.”

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