Airlift: IHR calls for surveillance at Hajj camps, embarkation points 


As the airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia begin, Wednesday, Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR) has called on the federal and state governments to make adequate security arrangements for pilgrims at embarkation points across the country.

IHR said in a statement Monday signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammed that over 65, 000 intending pilgrims from Nigeria will be leaving their homes to various Hajj camps for screening and onward transportation to about 15 airports within the next 30 days.

Such mass movement of people from one point to another creates serious security challenges that need a comprehensive and coordinated strategy by the various security agencies in the country, it said.

IHR said: “While we appreciate the efforts made by security agencies in previous operations, we call on the federal government to order and activate a high-level security surveillance system to monitor and protect the movement of pilgrims throughout the outbound and inbound airlift operations.

“We also urge State Muslim pilgrims’ welfare boards to advise intending pilgrims against coming to hajj camps with large escorts usually made up of family members as such increases the likelihood of security breaches especially when airlift operations demand that pilgrims can be invited to hajj camps at any time of the day or night.

“State governments should complement the federal security architecture by mobilizing local vigilantes and other volunteers to form a hajj security team and provide them with internal communication equipment with state hajj officials, airliners and other airlift stakeholders.

“As journalists who worked closely with security agencies during hajj operations, IHR had in the last few years, honoured security institutions during its annual hajj lectures and awards to appreciate and encourage them to improve on their daunting tasks of maintaining security of lives and properties across the country.”

IHR further appeals to security agencies to take necessary measures to prevent evil-minded groups from exploiting the Hajj season to carry out acts of sabotage.