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Lagos Hajj pilgrims airlift from Saudi begins Sunday

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to commence airlifting of the over 1,800 pilgrims that participated in the 2024 Hajj back to the state after completing their religious rites in Saudi Arabia.

It said that the airlifting exercise from the holy land to Nigeria will commence on Sunday, June 23rd, 2024 with special pilgrims leaving first.

The special pilgrims to be airlifted were 188 comprising of the elders, those with health challenges and foreign-based Lagosians who participated in the journey through the state pilgrims’ board.

Meanwhile, a special prayer session was organized by the Lagos State Musim Pilgrims Welfare Board to commemorate the 11th years remembrance anniversary of late Abibatu Mogaji, mother of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and other notable individuals including the Lagos All Progressives Congress former welfare secretary, Ramota Bankole, who passed on after completing her Hajj rites recently.

The Amir-ul-Hajj and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Olanrewaju Layode, who disclosed this while speaking at the remembrance prayer session, explained that the special pilgrims would be leaving boarding same flight with Kebbi State pilgrims.

He stressed further that the full flight of the State would continue on Monday, June 24 with the second batch and this would run on ‘first-in, first-out basis’, saying there will not preferential treatment for any pilgrims, except if occasion warrants it.

The Commissioner added that the status quo ante would remain until the last batch of pilgrims are airlifted back home.

While wishing them journey mercy, Layode urged them to guide their new status jealousy, saying that as new Alhajis and Alhajas, they are like newly born babies without any sins.

He added that in line with Islamic principle, their new status remains intact till at least 41 days if they can avoid committing sins.

He also admonished them to allow the exemplary conducts they exhibited whilst in the Holy land reflect in their dealings with others in every sphere of human endeavors when they return to Nigeria, so that people can find them worthy of emulation.

While reiterating his advice that the pilgrims should maintain the 32kg allowed for the main luggage by the airline, Layode warned them to desist from carrying water and any other liquid items in their luggage.

He assured them that a five kilograms ZamZam water has already been transported to Nigeria for each of them.

He appealed to those yet to be airlifted to exercise patience as necessary plans have been put in place to ensure that everyone is airlifted back to Nigeria within the shortest period of time.

On the special prayer, the session was organized by the Lagos State Musim Pilgrims Welfare Board to commemorate the 11th years remembrance anniversary of late Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, mother of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR.

The prayer which was held on Friday at the Mosque of Alsaad Flower Hotel 2, Misfalah, Makkah, was led by the Chairman of the Ulamah (clerics), Raji Opeyemi while Layode, Board members, pilgrims and other stakeholders were in attendance.

Speaking on the attribute of late Abibatu Mogaji, a member of the Muslim Pilgrims Board, Prof. Kabir Paramole, described her as a pious, dedicated, committed and devout Muslim during her lifetime. He explained that her personal sacrifices and efforts at ensuring that Hajj performance becomes easy for Nigerians were second to none, hence, her nickname, ‘Mama nMakkah’.

The occasion was used to remember late AbdurRasaq Gawat and Ramota Bankole who died recently in Makkah, as well as other departed souls, praying Allah to forgive their shortcomings and grant them Aljanat Fridaos.

Prayers were also offered for the success of the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces as well as the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Hamzat.

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