The pilgrims’ welfare boards of Katsina and Gombe states have refunded a total of N1.26bn to intending pilgrims who were unable to go for the 2021 Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

For Gombe state, N495.2m was returned to 332 persons from the 2020/2021 intending pilgrims who applied for a refund, while N768.9m was paid to 599 intending pilgrims from Katsina state.

The refund follows the cancellation of the 2020 Hajj by the Saudi authority due to the outbreak of Covid-19 around the world.

According to a statement issued on Thursday by the Head of Media, Gombe State Board, Hauwa Mohammed, the affected persons have been fully refunded.

Mohammed said, “The Hajj deposit refunds are still in progress for those who wish to collect their deposits. The board wishes to call on intending pilgrims from the state wishing to make Hajj deposit for 2022 Hajj exercise to exercise patience as the Board is still awaiting further guidelines and directives from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.”

The Executive Secretary of the Board, Alh. Sa’adu Adamu, urged other intending pilgrims who rolled over their Hajj deposits to the Hajj 2022 exercise to intensify prayers for control of Covid-19.

He said, “They should continue to pray to Almighty Allah to ease the Covid-19 pandemic to enable the Muslim Ummah across the globe to perform the Hajj rites as usual.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Katsina State board, Alhaji Suleiman Kuki, stated that the refund made represented 22.01 per cent of the total 2,721 intending pilgrims that deposited their money with the board.

He said, “From the statistics of the board’s pilgrims registration, the board has depositors with payments ranging from N300,000 to N1.500,000, and all refunds are made to the last kobo.”

Kuki stated that the exercise was ongoing, adding that any intending pilgrim wishing to request a refund of his/her deposits was free to do so.

He emphasised that those willing to roll over their deposits against 2022 Hajj could do so by contacting their zonal pilgrims offices to fill/sign the roll-over agreement form.

According to Kuki, though the cancellation of 2021 Hajj 2021 to foreign pilgrims by Saudi Arabian Authorities was due to the prevalence of COVID-19, there are indications that the Umrah exercise for 2022 will hold.

He commended NAHCON for its leadership role and also applauded the loyalty, show of understanding, confidence, and trust by the intending pilgrims on the board’s activities.

He revealed that the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, had blessed the board’s proposals and granted approval to commence ‘Umrah’ in line with internationally acceptable standards.

Kuki added that the board was working round the clock to obtain the required licenses and other operational permits.