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2024 hajj: Nigerian pilgrims without identity cards risk N3.9m fine, deportation 

The Saudi authorities have announced a SR10,000 (N3,991, 170) fine for first offender pilgrims caught without having NUSUK cards during the rituals of 2024 Hajj…

The Saudi authorities have announced a SR10,000 (N3,991, 170) fine for first offender pilgrims caught without having NUSUK cards during the rituals of 2024 Hajj exercise.

NUSUK is an identification card introduced by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to facilitate easy movement of all pilgrims at the holy sites.

According to a statement by the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, any pilgrim that repeats the offence will pay a hefty fine of up to SR100,000 (N39,819m).

“Previously, Saudi authorities announced a fine of SR10,000 for anyone, including Saudi citizens, expatriates, and visitors, who entered Makkah without a Hajj permit between Dhul Qada 25 (June 2) and Dhul Hijjah 14 (June 20, 2024).

“The fines will apply to individuals found without a Hajj permit in various areas, including the holy city of Makkah, the Central Haram Area, the Holy Sites of Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah, as well as the Haramain train station in Rusayfah, security control centres, pilgrims’ grouping centers, and temporary security control centres.

“The ministry also announced an increase in fines for repeat offenders, with penalties potentially reaching up to SR 100,000.

“Expatriates found violating these regulations will face deportation and may be banned from reentering the Kingdom following legal provisions,” the statement read.

The Saudi authority noted that misplacing the Nusuk card could pose challenges during the Hajj exercise.

However, the executive chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) has called on Nigerian pilgrims to move around in Makkah with their Nusuk identity cards to avoid being arrested by the Saudi authorities.

He said pilgrims without the Nusuk ID card would not be granted access to some premises in Saudi Arabia.

“The highest religious body of Saudi Arabia has issued a fatwa in this regard,” he said, adding that all pilgrims must obtain the cards for their welfare during the exercise.

“All pilgrims must collect their NUSUK ID cards on arrival in Makkah from the Mutawwif officials (if they have not already done so) at designated distribution points.

“Pilgrims can inquire about collection procedures from the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards or tour operators they registered with.

“It is imperative to always carry these cards, as they are the recognized means of identifying pilgrims and for having access to key areas during hajj.

“Pilgrims with smartphones can download the NUSUK app from the Play Store or iTunes stores. They can use their passport and visa numbers to activate and access digital copies of their NUSUK cards.

“Be vigilant and aware of the presence of illegal pilgrims attempting to steal and use NUSUK ID cards to gain access to the Masha’er. Guard your cards carefully, and report any suspicious activity to the nearest authorities,” he said.

The NAHCON chairman asked all state pilgrim boards to emphasise the need to have NUSUK cards for registered pilgrims during periodic engagements.

He warned pilgrims against aiding others to illegally perform hajj, noting that anyone caught could face a penalty of six months’ imprisonment, a fine of SR10,000, immediate deportation, or being banned from Saudi Arabia for 10 years.

“We understand that some pilgrims may have misplaced their NUSUK cards. In such cases, pilgrims should contact their respective state pilgrims’ officials or NAHCON’s operational office in Makkah for assistance.

“We urge all pilgrims to adhere strictly to these guidelines to avoid any inconvenience or disruption in their spiritual journey,” Arabi added.

 

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