The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has asked tour operators to refund pilgrims who paid for Umrah (lesser hajj) following its suspension by Saudi Arabian authorities due to coronavirus.
This is as Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday the detection of three more new coronavirus cases.
The affected persons include a couple and another person, the Ministry of Health said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
The ministry had announced on Monday and Wednesday the detection of the first and second coronavirus cases among two Saudis who traveled to the Kingdom via Bahrain after visiting Iran.
NAHCON Head of Public Affairs, Mrs Fatima Usara, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, urged those who paid for the lesser Hajj through Licensed Tour Operators to keep in touch with the local operators for collection of their money when eventually released by Saudi Arabia.
She also advised pilgrims who encountered challenges in the process of collecting their refunds to lodge complaints with the commission.
“All claims must be accompanied with valid documents and evidence of transaction with the registered operator,” she said.
Usara said that the announcement followed a circular by Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah informing Muslim faithful of its resolve to refund lesser Hajj visa fees and other service charges to pilgrims.
“This is sequel to suspension of lesser Hajj activities by the Kingdom’s authorities as a measure towards halting the spread of COVID-19 infection.
“An electronic method for refunding lesser Hajj visa applicants through their local agents has been prepared for payments,” she said.
Usara, therefore, urged those with legitimate claims to contact their travel agents for retrieval of their dues.
She said that the commission had always cautioned pilgrims for lesser Hajj to deal directly with tour operators who were duly registered with the commission.
According to her, that would assist the commission to recover Pilgrims’ funds in case of breach of contract or any situation that might warrant recovery of funds.