Hajj Stampede: Non Payment Of Compensation Worries NAHCON

By Aaron Ossai

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON) has lamented the failure of the Saudi Arabian authorities to pay compensation to the families of the 317 Nigerians who lost their lives during a stampede in the country in 2015.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, the Secretary of the Commission, Dr. B M Tambuwal said it was unfortunate that three years after the incident, the Saudi authorities have not deemed it fit to pay compensate to families of the victims.

He explained that bodies of five of the victims are yet to be identified as DNA test results taken from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia could not match with any of the dead bodies made available to the Commission.

‘’The Commission is however not resting in its effort to ensure that the families of the victims were adequately compensated’’, he assured.

He said that the Commission has resolved to establish a DNA bank for Nigerian pilgrims through collection of buccal swabs from pilgrims before embarking on Hajj exercise.

The measure according to him was to enable the Commission quickly identify and trace pilgrims in the event of death and absence of any form of identity which he said will address the challenge of identification the Commission faced in 2015.

On the activities of the Commission, the Secretary said it has improved on Hajj operations especially in the areas of medication, pilgrims airlift, reduction on time spent at Hajj camps during Saudi bound airlifts, time spent at Jeddah airport during Nigeria bound airlift from days to hours as well as conveyance of all pilgrim’s luggage.

Speaking further, he explained that the Commission has also improved welfare of pilgrims while in the holy land adding that the standard of pilgrims’ accommodation both in Mina and Arafat has been upgraded to one that is at par with other top ranked countries.

According to him, the Commission through prudent management of resources in March 2016 refunded the sum of N1.75 billion to Pilgrims Boards of the 36 states and the FC for onward refund to pilgrims.

The refund he continued was as a result of services not rendered or poorly rendered during the 2015 Hajj exercise which he said was a demonstration of commitment to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims got value for their money.


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