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NAHCON absolves self from failure to airlift 487 stranded hajj pilgrims

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National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has debunked the allegation that the body was responsible for the 487 intending Nigerian pilgrims left stranded in Kano, Nigeria.

NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Saleh, told journalists in Mina, Saudi Arabia, at the weekend that the stranded pilgrims registered under some private tour operators, who could not provide an aircraft for their transportation to the holy land.

He, however, said NAHCON would investigate and placed an appropriate sanction on the travel agencies involved.

“We have not left any pilgrim behind. All pilgrims of the state welfare pilgrim boards were all airlifted. Travel agencies or tour operators were given 20,000 slots out of which about 19,780 actually registered with them. In the case of the travel agencies, they have the freedom to use any other airline aside the three airlines approved by NAHCON.

“We monitor their activities in order to protect the rights of the pilgrims. Some of them told us the airlines they intended to use to bring in pilgrims while some did not. For some that did not, we assumed they had no problem. To our surprise, we learnt that some of them were having problems with airlifting their pilgrims.

“No single tour operator has come to NAHCON to complain that it has a problem. We will find out who and who was involved. We will ensure that the stranded intending pilgrims get back their rights even if it means getting back their money and ensure that the culprits are brought to book to serve as a deterrent for future occurrences.

“Once we are able to fish them out, we will apply appropriate sanction on them even if it means withdrawing their licences or prosecuting them,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the senator representing Borno South Senatorial District, Ali Ndume, has appealed to Nigerian pilgrims performing this year’s hajj to continue praying for God’s intervention in the security and economy challenges confronting the country.

Ndume stated this while speaking with journalists yesterday in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

He said that the security situation in the country called for a sober reflection adding that President Muhammadu Buhari must do everything within his power to ensure that lives and property of citizens are more secured.

He said: “As pilgrims on a spiritual sojourn, we should pray for security and welfare of the Nigerian citizens.

“Once a country is not secure, it cannot do anything and once citizens of a country are not happy in terms of welfare, there will be a lot of other challenges. So all the problems we are having in our country squarely centre on security and welfare, which should be the priority of everyone.”


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