The Edo State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board has begun screening exercises for the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage. The screenings, which commenced today in Benin City, are mandatory for all intending pilgrims from Edo State.

Sheikh Ibrahim Oyarekhua, Chairman of the Board, declared the exercise critical for verifying the identities of the participating pilgrims.

“In the past, before we came on board” Oyarekhua explained, “individuals have misused the services of the pilgrim boards to travel to Saudi Arabia under false pretenses. This screening ensures that only true Muslims who intend to perform Hajj are included in the pilgrimage.”

The screening processes will assess not only the identity but also the pilgrim’s medical fitness and travel documents. Oyarekhua emphasized the urgency for pilgrims to complete the process.

“The Saudi Arabian visa portal closes for the entire world next Monday, April 29th,” he warned. “Those who haven’t submitted their documents by then will be ineligible. By then, it will be 50 days to Arafat Day, and there will be no extensions after that.”

Following the screening, Hajj lectures will begin this weekend. Oyarekhua reported that Edo State is nearly ready for the pilgrimage, with preparations at 98.5% complete.

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“Our state portal closes this Friday, and the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) closes theirs on Monday,” Oyarekhua continued. “Airlift of pilgrims will commence on May 10th, with Edo State departing before the end of May.”

The Chairman expressed gratitude to the state governor for his support throughout his tenure. He also announced that the ongoing building project for the Board will be finished before the pilgrims depart for Saudi Arabia this year.

The second Ameerul Hajj, Alhaji Abdulfatah Enabulele, the Chief Imam of Benin Central Mosque who spoke to journalists expressed his happiness for the ongoing screening exercise and emphasized that Hajj is a religious obligation which must be carried with principle in accordance with the religion.

Members of the screening Committee include: the Edo State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board’s staff members; representative of the Nigerian Immigration Service; and representative of the Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN).

The screening exercise is expected to end in Edo North tomorrow Wednesday, May 24, 2024 at Arafat Mosque in Auchi, Etsako West Local Government Area.