By Tukur Muntari
Kano – The first batch of 540 Kano State intending pilgrims have been transported to Saudi Arabia for the 2018 hajj.
The pilgrims departed the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport on board a Max Air Boeing 747 aircraft at exactly 12:23a.m. on Saturday.
Hajiya Hadiza Abbas, the Public Relations Officer of the State Pilgrims Welfare Board, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday that the pilgrims arrived the holy land safety.
She said the pilgrims comprising 292 males and 248 females, were from Ungoggo, Dala, Gwale and Fagge local government areas of the state.
She said that preparations for the transportation of the second batch of the intending pilgrims had also commenced, pointing out that the pilgrims had been directed to await the announcement.
“The second batch of our pilgrims are expected to leave the country anytime the aircraft returns, so we have asked them to await further directive so that they can converge on the hajj camp for screening.
“We have also directed them to ensure that they report to the camp immediately they hear the announcement over the state radio, “Abbas said.
Meanwhile, the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje has charged the intending pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state and the country while at the holy land.
He gave the charge while addressing the pilgrims shortly before their departure to the holy land from the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport.
He cautioned them against acts capable of tarnishing the image of the country, and to exhibit highest sense of responsibility wherever they might found themselves.
Ganduje also called on the intending pilgrims not to take any prohibited items into the holy land as the Saudi authorities have stiffer penalties for erring pilgrims.
He charged the pilgrims to pray for continuous peace and unity of the country as well as peaceful conduct of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
NAN reports that no fewer than 5,500 intending pilgrims from the state are expected to perform the 2018 hajj, even though only 2, 800 pilgrims completed payment of their hajj fares as at last week.