The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has declared that it will thoroughly investigate the extortion of some Nigerian intending pilgrims by some licenced tour operators who allegedly collected extra money from the intending pilgrims claiming that such amount was requested by NAHCON for their prompt airlifting.
Reacting to a viral video where the allegation was made by an intending pilgrim, NAHCON Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, denied requesting or collecting money from any pilgrim.
He added the issue would be investigated and probably handed over to the anti-graft agencies.
“Well, we need to investigate it (allegation). But if it is true that there were such allegations, there will certainly be sanctions.
“We will invite the security and investigative agencies, certainly we will,” Hassan said.
“National Hajj Commission does not collect money from single individual. Even in the state, we also don’t collect money.
“When we return home, we will thoroughly investigate this. I make bold to say that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria collects no single money from any individuals for the matter of operation whether in the states or tour operators. That will be the responsibility of their managers,” he said.
Hassan said despite this, the commission made efforts to ensure that all registered pilgrims were brought to Saudi Arabia “since every pilgrim is our own”.
While regretting that some intending pilgrims could not be airlifted to Saudi Arabia to perform this year’s Hajj, the NAHCON CEO said the commission tried its best to ensure all registered pilgrims were airlifted but despite its frantic efforts, it was not possible to do so.
According to him, the commission had an understanding with Saudi airline, FlyNas for a rescue operation but by the time a two-day extension was granted to Nigeria to airlift all pilgrims, it was too late as the airline had disbanded its crew.
“We actually had the understanding of FlyNas to do the rescue. But immediately after the gate was formally closed, FlyNas sent their crew back to their different countries.
“So when we told them that our efforts (to get extra two days), they said they have disbanded their crew and they were from different countries and there was no way in that short time.”
Hassan, however, assured those who missed the 2022 Hajj of NAHCON’s readiness to refund their fares immediately, saying that those who do not wish to collect their money back will be given priority next year.
“For all those who couldn’t come, doe us it was painful and we have made up our mind that we will look for these people and ensure that they get their money immediately we arrive home.
“In fact, we are ready to refund the money before we get home. In the event that they don’t want to collect their money; this is something we have seen occurring in Hajj, we will give them a priority,” the NAHCON chairman assured.
About 1,809 intending pilgrims missed the Hajj exercise.
The details include: 700 pilgrims from Kano State. 97 pilgrims from Plateau State, 12 pilgrims from Bauchi State and 1000 from Tour Operators.
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