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Hajj 2022: CSO urges NAHCON, EFCC to probe alleged seat racketeering, BTA fraud

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
29 June 2022   |   2:43 am
A civil society organisation, Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), has called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)

[FILES] Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, addressing pressmen during 2022 inaugural flight in Maiduguri

A civil society organisation, Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), has called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies, to investigate widespread allegations of fraud and related malpractices in the ongoing hajj 2022 exercise.

Specifically, IHR raised concern about defrauding pilgrims’ Basic Traveling Allowance (BTA) and Hajj seats racketeering across the country.

In a statement by the National Coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammad, IHR said it has received numerous complaints across the country from intending pilgrims alleging that some officials in states pilgrims boards collude with others outside the Hajj industry, to sell Hajj seats to desperate intending pilgrims who are ready to purchase such seats at any price.

According to him, “Our social media message box is filled with complaints from 2022 Hajj intending pilgrims who alleged that some officials demand and receive between N250,000 to N500,000 before agreeing to process their travelling documents despite depositing the required N2.5 million since 2019 and meeting NAHCON’S criteria of first come first serve, age and payment before the deadline.”

The IHR national coordinator drew the attention of the Central Bank, ACAs and NAHCON to the controversy surrounding the issue of Basic Travelling Allowances (BTA) for some state pilgrims.

The 2022 Hajj fare component as announced by NAHCON, has a provision for US$800 as Basic Travelling Allowance to each pilgrim travelling under state Muslim pilgrim’s boards.

However, IHR said some states are allegedly paying their pilgrims US$500 as BTA while others are yet to disburse the BTA to their pilgrims who are currently in Saudi Arabia.

IHR said it will compile its reports on the fraudulent activities of those involved in Hajj seat racketeering.

“We cannot allow a few bad elements to convert the Hajj and Umrah industry into another black market venture where people buy low and sell high,” the statement read.