Tour Operators Seek FG’s Intervention In Umrah Visa Racketeering

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Federal government has been urged to intervene in the alleged racketeering of Umrah (lesser hajj) visas to Nigerians seeking to embark on the spiritual journey to the Holy Land, Saudi Arabia.

Some Nigerian independent licenced tour operators made the passionate appeal in a separate chat with LEADERSHIP, saying the situation is unhealthy for Nigeria’s Hajj and Umrah industry.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) last week confirmed a shortage of Umrah visas for Nigerian Muslims.

A statement signed by the commission’s assistant director of public affairs, Fatima Sanda Usara, said the commission will continue to work tirelessly in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to find a satisfactory resolution to the visa inaccessibility.

The statement explained that the high demand for Umrah Visas during Ramadan further exacerbates the shortage. It also disclosed that NAHCON has officially written a letter communicating its concerns directly to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, outlining the implications of unavailable Visas for Nigerian Tour Operators.

CEO of Mohdibra Travels, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, alleged that some selfish agents in Saudi Arabia had hijacked the Umrah visa to the detriment of approved Nigerian licenced tour operators and urged NAHCON to be more proactive to its responsibilities.

Ibrahim called for the intervention of the federal government to protect the Nigerian licenced tour operators from the Saudi-Arabian authorities.

“We tour operators pay charges to Nigerian government and Saudi Arabia,  so why are we not  accessing the Visa Portal and we are here left with passengers and accruing loses that is running into billions?

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“In the Umrah sector, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) gave us -Tour Operators licenses to operate Umrah service and we used this License to go to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to apply for visas for Nigerians to go for Umrah.  We paid two thousand Saudi Riyals for the Portal to be opened but the Agents in Saudi Arabia are telling us that the quota has not been approved, not knowing that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has sent us an email that it has approved the same contract number. Now, who is using the contract number to issue visas to people in Nigeria because they didn’t give us the password of the portal which my company registered.

 

“And people are sending money to Saudi Arabia to buy Visas for Umrah while we registered Licensed Agents in Nigeria can’t access the portal. The Agents in Saudi Arabia are using Our licenses to operate the portal,” Ibrahim alleged.

 

Another tour operator who prefers to be anonymous also informed our correspondent of the issues they are currently facing with the infiltration of non-licenced operators into the business.

 

“We want to know who is responsible for the Visas coming from Saudi Arabia because NAHCON is not doing its work nor taking up its responsibility of knowing how many companies are issuing visas for Umrah now. Some of our passengers have bought tickets and they did not have Visas but visas are still coming out of Saudi Arabia not Nigeria because most Visas in Nigeria are not working,” the tour operator noted.

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Meanwhile, all efforts to get the Saudi Embassy in Nigeria to respond to the allegation proved unsuccessful as they refused to answer their calls and one Dr Mohammed Isa who responded to one of the messages sent to his WhatsApps number said he is on leave and will not resume work until after two weeks.

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