The Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Board, Ben Abdallah Banda, has cautioned prospective Ghanaian Muslims to beware of scammers who offer tourist visas to unsuspecting pilgrims, with the assurance of offering them Hajj services.
The Chairman also warned that those with either a tourist visa or Hajj visas who did not pay through the Hajj Board or its accredited agents, and intend to access Ghana’s facilities in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj, should halt their plans because they will be fished out.
Issuing the caution, the Ghana Hajj Board boss explained that some, knowingly and unknowingly, attempt to perform the Hajj using tourist visas instead of the required Hajj Visa, warning that Saudi authorities have said they will be very strict in applying the law, adding that culprits could end up being prosecuted.
“I want to sound this caution to my brothers and sisters, who may have paid some money to some fake agents who can only get them tourist visas not Hajj visas. You cannot perform the Hajj with a tourist visa and if you attempt to do that, you will be arrested and prosecuted and you may be jailed, deported and even suffer a ban from entering Saudi Arabia for years,” Mr. Banda warned.
He added: “there are also those with these same tourist visas, who did not pay to the Hajj Board or our accredited agents, but they will also show up at our camp in Saudi as if they are part of us and attempt to use our facilities, since they are also Ghanaians. We will not accept that and again, I want to caution those who intend to do so to desist from that to avoid any inconvenience and embarrassment.”
On preparations for this year’s Hajj, Chairman Banda revealed that the first batch of Ghanaian pilgrims will depart Tamale to Saudi Arabia today, Friday June 9, adding that the airlifting of pilgrims frommthe northern sector of the country will continue until June 16, where the airlifting of pilgrims from the Southern sector begins.
About 4000 Ghanaian pilgrims are expected to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj, which is the first time Saudi authorities will be allowing a full-capacity Hajj since the outbreak of Covid-19 global pandemic in 2019.