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Hajj Hiccups: Saudi exonerates NAHCON, confirms receipt of N2.2b

By Shakirah Adunola (Makkah, Saudi Arabia)
16 July 2022   |   4:02 am
The Tawafah Company for Pilgrims of African Non-Arab Countries, popularly known as the Mu’assasa, has confirmed receipt of a total sum of 19.9 million riyals, equivalent to N2.2 billion, from 33 Nigerian Hajj and Umrah tour operators through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria...

The Tawafah Company for Pilgrims of African Non-Arab Countries, popularly known as the Mu’assasa, has confirmed receipt of a total sum of 19.9 million riyals, equivalent to N2.2 billion, from 33 Nigerian Hajj and Umrah tour operators through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)’s RTGS account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Chairman of the Mu’assasa, Mr. Ahmad Sindi, who made the confirmation, however, said the money could not be paid to the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) of Nigerian private tour operators who were expected to use the fund for visa processing during the airlifting of pilgrims for the 2022 Hajj due to mismatch in the account numbers and account holders.

It could be recalled that in June 2022, the private operators under the aegis of the Association for Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHOUN) had alleged that NAHCON refused to fund their IBAN account, which affected the processing of their intending pilgrims’ visas.

The association had also said the Commission’s failure to pay into Mu’assasa’s account led to many of their members missing scheduled flights to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 Hajj, which commenced on July 7 and ended on July 11.

The Chairman of the Mu’assass, however, exonerated the Commission of any wrongdoing, explaining that the issue of the IBAN account was affected generally by lateness in this year’s Hajj announcement but specifically due to issues relating to mismatch in the account numbers and account holders’ names on one hand and inaccurate account numbers on the other hand.

The revelation was made when the Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, led a delegation comprising top officials of the Commission and some private tour operators to the Mu’assasa.

The meeting was aimed at resolving two crucial 2022 Hajj operational matters, the first of which was to seek an explanation for the Private Tour Operators’ IBAN account accreditation setback and way forward.

The second was the poor feeding arrangement during the pilgrims’ stay in Mina and Arafat as well as NAHCON’s request for a refund on behalf of the pilgrims.

NAHCON Chairman said the remaining money yet to be credited to the 33 tour operators companies’ IBAN account is 19.9 million riyals.

However, Sindi gave the assurance that the monies were intact and would be returned to NAHCON’s account as soon as the Mu’assasa receives a formal letter of request to that effect.

Regarding the Mina feeding arrangement, Sindi disclosed that from next year, Mu’assasa would work with only well-established caterers that have adequate manpower and sufficient facilities.

According to him, we may even require bank guarantees before accepting any recommended caterer.

He explained that this would happen because of the disappointment they also witnessed from the engaged caterers this year, though the company initially got the impression that they were satisfied.

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