The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said it had put measures in place to record zero-abscondment in the ongoing 2023 hajj operation.
The commission’s Head of Passports Management Control Committee, Alhaji Tajudeen Akande, made the assertion in an interactive session with newsmen in Madinah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on Thursday.
He said the sole responsibility of the committee was to keep pilgrims passport, saying, ” hajj management is like a chain and one of the link in hajj management is passport management.”
Akande said that the commission had 70 per cent control of pilgrims passports in Madina, adding that other countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia had joined the initiative.
” Right from 2019 hajj operation, the level of abscondment had drastically reduced because of measures introduced by the commission and this year, we are going to record zero abscondment because of enhanced awareness,” he said.
Akande stated that effective passport management was very key to ensuring smooth transportation of pilgrims in and out of the Saudi Arabia.
He said: ”It is from passports management that the committee arranges pilgrims transportation right from their arrival at the airport in Saudi Arabia, without which passport they will not be cleared.
“So, it is this same passport that will be used to convey each pilgrim from the buses to their accommodation. Therefore, passport management is a key change in hajj management process.
” And not only that, it is also a procedure to check abscondment because some pilgrims have another mindset of coming to look left and right to see if they can abscond, but if their passport is kept somewhere that may prevent them.
” It is not that it will completely eradicate it but at least it will reduce it to the bearest minimal. Once your passport is not with you then you will think twice.”
The official said that in the past it was Saudi Arabia through its agencies that managed pilgrims’ passports.
” But from 2021, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah directed hajj participating countries to be keeping their passports and that was why the leadership of NAHCON under Zikrullah Hassan came up with the initiative.
” He set up a committee and the members of the committee were trained by the Saudi Arabia agencies namely: Adilah in Madina and Muasasa in Makkah.
” As you can see, 80 per cent of what we do here is technologically based. Once passports arrive, here they go straight to the Information and Communication Technology room,” Akande said.