Pilgrims in Borno State who will be visiting Mecca – the holiest city for Muslims – to observe Umrah or Hajj have begun to get vaccinated before their journey.
The Pilgrims Welfare Board confirmed that the vaccination of pilgrims had begun.
Bukar Grema, a resident of Damboa, told RNI reporter Hadiza Dawood that he wanted to attend Umrah this year and it was compulsory for pilgrims to get inoculated.
“I will go to Mecca to observe Umrah. Taking the vaccine is compulsory for pilgrims and that was why I took it. It was harmless. I didn’t fear anything when I taking the vaccine. I call on all pilgrims to get inoculated,” he said.
Hajjara Modu kaka, a resident of Maiduguri, told RNI that she had visited the Pilgrims’ Welfare Board and had been vaccinated.
“I want to go to Umrah. I heard that the board had announced that those people who were going to attend this year’s Hajj and Umrah should go to the board and get inoculated before they left the country. And that is why I got the COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.
Mala Bukar Gaji, from Bolori ward in Maiduguri, also went to get his inoculation at the board. “It has become a criterion if you want to travel for Hajj and Umrah. I am not scared of the vaccine because it has been proved to be harmless.”
Alhaji Ali Adam, the secretary of the Borno State Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, said that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria had sent a letter to ensure that all pilgrims who intended to travel for Hajj and Umrah had to be vaccinated. If they were not, they would be disqualified and would not be allowed to leave the country.
The Hajj starts on the evening of July 17 and ends on the evening of July 22. The Umrah pilgrimage starts from the holy month of Ramadan and it can be performed at any time throughout the year.
Adam said pilgrims needed to be vaccinated as soon as possible and had to have a second inoculation 12 weeks later. If they did not accede to this, they would not be allowed to leave Maiduguri.
“Umrah offers an opportunity for Muslims to refresh their faith, seek forgiveness and pray for their needs. One who performs it is said to be cleansed of their sins,” Adam said.