Details have emerged of how the Federal Capital Territory Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board bypassed guidelines put in place by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to secure a substandard, unsecured accommodation for Pilgrims from Nigeria’s capital territory.
Part of the major provision in the guidelines for securing accommodation for Nigerian pilgrims is that such proposed accommodation is not too far from the Grand Mosque and must have adequate facilities and hygienic environment.
Most importantly, the proposed accommodation must be inspected and certified fit by officials of NAHCON before being secured.
NAHCON and officials from the 36 states often travel to Saudi Arabia months ahead of the Hajj season mainly for that purpose.
However, HAJJ REPORTERS can report that the FCT board under the leadership of its new Director, Adamu Abubakar Evuti choose to bypass the guideline and surreptitiously secured a substandard accommodation leading to widespread protest by the pilgrims.
An official who declined to be named because he hasn’t permission to speak to the media on the matter said “what the FCT Pilgrims board officials did was to wait until the NAHCON inspection team have concluded their assignments and returned to Nigeria before they went to Saudi Arabia negotiate for the substandard accommodation “.
Tunde Jimoh Salman, one of the affected pilgrims in a video shared on social media berated the FCT board for taking them to the substandard hotel.
“Nobody should be taken to such kind of location, no functioning elevator, no running water, bad sewage, I wonder who approved such kind of facility to be given to pilgrims?” he said.
Another pilgrim who was not named was also seen lamenting the situation. “We were fixed into a dilapidated accommodation which was not comfortable enough for us. That is why we had to move to NAHCON. If not for NAHCON we would have been in serious jeopardy.”
Hajj Reporters tried to reach both the FCT board director and the Public Relations Officer for comments. They both did not respond to our inquiries
HAJJ REPORTERS gathered that following their protest to the Makkah office of NAHCON, the deputy coordinator of Makkah, Halidu Shutti, led a team to inspect the alleged substandard accommodation.
Following confirmation, Alhaji Shutti said he immediately reported the matter to the Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikirullah Kunle Hassan, who ordered that the pilgrims should be relocated to a decent accommodation immediately.
The NAHCON Makkah team thereafter moved the pilgrims to Al-Kiswa hotel around Shara Mansur area.
A female pilgrim also posted a video in Hausa language, in which she was praising NAHCON for coming to their aid” We are now in a Hotel, we have left the forest, now everyone is happy,” she said.