Medview Airline on Sunday began airlifting of Lagos pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2017 Hajj.
The first flight, a B747-400 aircraft carrying 460 passengers departed from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at 12.50 p.m.
A total of 2,316 from the state are expected to participate in this year’s pilgrimage according to records released by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
Speaking to newsmen before the flight’s departure, the Managing Director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, said the journey to the Holy Land should be supported by the government because it was a blessing in disguise for the country.
“The people going to Hajj are going there for a spiritual purpose. Over two million people assembling in one place to pray for themselves, their countries and the world at large.
“So, it is really a blessing in disguise and I think government should continue to support this spiritual exercise because the country needs more prayers,’’ he said.
Bankole disclosed that Medview Airline would be conveying passengers to Mecca and Medina from 18 states of the federation, adding that this was expected to be completed within one week.
“My message for the pilgrims is that they should be good ambassadors of Nigeria. They should go there and pray for themselves, their states, the country and their leaders.
“I equally implore them to pray for Medview which is the airline of Nigeria,’’ he said.
Also, the Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Alhaji Abdulhakeem Abdullateef, thanked Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode for the support given the state’s pilgrims, especially ensuring that their welfare was safeguarded at all times.
“That is why we are going with a medical team of 32 personnel and seasoned Islamic clerics to guide the pilgrims to understand that the transaction they are engaging in is spiritual.
“This is to ensure that they don’t stay back but learn from the development efforts of Saudi Arabia and reciprocate it here when they come back.
“They will also learn peaceful co-existence because they are going to meet people from different cultures and background during the exercise,’’ Abdullateef said.
According to him, the government also subjected the pilgrims to a thorough screening exercise towards ensuring that no contraband was taken to the Holy Land from the state.
On his part, Imam Faud Adeyemi, Commissioner, NAHCON, South-West Zone, said the pilgrims had been sensitised on the dos and don’ts during the hajj.
He therefore, enjoined them to be of good behaviour and worthy ambassadors of the country.