The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has commenced the refund of the 2020 Hajj fares to intending pilgrims who wish get their deposits back.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, disclosed this during a press conference in Abuja.
Hassan said that the development became necessary following the decision of the Government of Saudi Arabia not to entertain any external pilgrim at Mecca this year as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that pilgrims who wish to rollover their deposits to the 2021 Hajj will be permitted to do so.
He said that registration for the 2021 Hajj will commence in September this year.
Hassan said: “Any intending pilgrim who desires to recover his/her deposit from the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards or the Private Tour Operators shall be refunded his money.
“However, those who may wish to leave or rollover their deposit for the 2021 Hajj shall be accorded the highest priority and ‘Right of first refusal’ in 2021 Hajj.
“The Commission has started the process of refund to the various State Pilgrims Welfare Boards for onward disbursements to the pilgrims.
“Likewise, those who decide to keep their 2020 deposit with the relevant agencies will have to sign a written agreement indicating their willingness to roll over their deposit against 2021 Hajj.
“I want to announce that the Commission will commence Hajj registration for 2021 from the 9th of September (2020).
“In light of this, the e-Hajj portal for pilgrims’ registration for 2021 Hajj will be opened immediately for registration to commence. Further guidelines will be issued in due course.”
The NAHCON boss further disclosed that the operation of the Hajj Savings Scheme will commence soon.
“This contributory savings scheme is an idea whose time has come,” Hassan said.
He added: “I believe with the scheme in place, we will be able to make the cost of Hajj in the near future more affordable as well as boost the economy of the Muslim Ummah in terms of employment generation, revenue profile of the Commission and aid the long term preparation/plan for Hajj.”
He advised intending pilgrims who have made deposits but do not have a bank account and wish for a refund to hasten in opening one.
“If they are not ready or willing to hold a bank account, NAHCON strongly advises them to secure their deposit with the Commission until 2021 or until they can move it safely.
“Intending pilgrims who made deposits to private tour operators and want a refund are advised to approach their respective travel agency with the duly signed service agreement.
“Where a disagreement arises, it should be promptly referred to the Commission for intervention.
“Considering that Hajj and Umrah did not take place, NAHCON management has decided to refund Licensed Tour Operators their License Fees and Caution deposits.
“The Commission has begun a transformation journey to the digital world – Strategic Transformation Plan (2020 – 2024) – in which our idea will be driven by Technological innovation.
“A survey has been sent to stakeholders to make their inputs. That will serve as tool to engineer a brighter future for NAHCON,” Hassan said.