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‘Saudi yet to compensate pilgrims’ families in 2015 stampede’

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has disclosed that Saudi Arabia has not compensated the pilgrims who died in a stampede in 2015. The commission’s Secretary, Abdullahi M. Muhammad disclosed this in Abuja yesterday. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has disclosed that Saudi Arabia has not compensated the pilgrims who died in a stampede in 2015. The commission’s Secretary, Abdullahi M. Muhammad disclosed this in Abuja yesterday.

He said it was unfortunate that despite several appeals, the Saudi authorities were yet to pay the families of the 317 Nigerians involved in the tragedy. He explained that the corpses of five of the victims were yet to be identified, as the DNA test results taken to Saudi Arabia did not match any of the bodies.

“The commission is however not resting in its effort to ensure that the families of the victims were adequately compensated,” he said. Muhammad further disclosed that the commission had resolved to establish a DNA bank for Nigerian pilgrims before embarking on Hajj exercise.

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He said this would enable it to easily identify and trace pilgrims in the event of death or absence of any form of identity. The secretary added that the commission has improved on Hajj operations, especially in the areas of medication, pilgrims’ airlift and the reduction on time spent at camps while waiting to be airlifted.

Also improved on is the conveyance of all pilgrims’ luggage and time spent at Jeddah Airport, which has been reduced from days to hours. He stressed that the standard of pilgrims’ accommodation, both in Mina and Arafat has been upgraded to be at par with other countries.

According to him, N1.75 billion was refunded in 2016 to the Pilgrims Boards in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as refunds to the pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the head of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI), Sadiya Umar Farouq yesterday faulted the allegation that she sold the Dates that the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia donated to the commission.

A statement by the commission in Abuja, said traditional rulers were used in distributing the products to the needy across the country, which include victims of cattle rustling and armed banditry in Zamfara State.


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