For Immediate Release
The Independent Hajj Reporters, (IHR), has said that it is worrisome that 67 days after the completion of 2022 Hajj operations, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards (SMPWBs) are yet to refund Nigerians who couldn’t perform this year’s pilgrimage.
Nearly 3,000 Nigerian missed the 2022 Hajj due to operational encumbrances on the part of NAHCON, SMPWBs and some tour operators, despite fully paying the Hajj fare pegged N2.5 million.
Independent Hajj Reporters, a non-profit organization that seeks transparency and accountability in Hajj operations in Nigeria, disclosed this in a statement by its national Coordinator Ibrahim Muhammmad on Thursday.
The statement said “despite the unprecedented disappointment and the trauma experienced by the intending pilgrims, NAHCON and State Pilgrims Welfare Boards and NAHCON are yet to refund them”.
The statement recalls that about 729 pilgrims from Kano, 93 from Kaduna and 152 Plateau pilgrims missed the 2022 Hajj due to challenges of airlift and cancellation of visas.
“While we acknowledge that some intending pilgrims may opt to retain their deposits for 2023 Hajj, such options are only tenable after NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Boards formally announce their readiness to refund those pilgrims,” the statement said.
“Therefore”, it added, “it is curious that 67 days after the 2022 Hajj formally ended, NAHCON and some state pilgrims’ boards are yet to refund 2022 Hajj pilgrims who missed the pilgrimage due to operational defects.”
The last batch of Nigerian pilgrims returned home on August 7, signaling the end of 2022 Hajj exercise for Nigerian pilgrims that participated in the exercise
IHR further tasked NAHCON to abide by its own promise and refund the 2022 Hajj pilgrims without further delay.
“It is instructive that NAHCON Chairman Barr Zikrullah Kunle Hassan had on July 10 promised to refund each and every pilgrim that missed the 2022 Hajj”.
Speaking to reporters in Saudi Arabia, the NAHCON Chairman assured the intending pilgrims who missed the 2022 Hajj of the commission’s readiness to refund their fares immediately.
Speaking further, Mr Zikrullah assured that those who do not wish to collect their money back will be given priority next year.
IHR restated its commitment in ensuring that each and every intending pilgrim who missed the Hajj exercise are refunded the exact amount of money they deposited prior to Hajj exercise especially for those who are willing to collect their money.
“It is our view that only timely payment of refund to willing pilgrims along with apology from NAHCON and the affected State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards can rebuild the lost confidence in those pilgrims,” the CSO said.
INDEPENDENT HAJJ REPORTERS
THURSDAY 20TH OCTOBER 2021