The House of Representatives have resolved to probe this year’s hajj operations in Saudi Arabia.
The decision to probe the Hajj operations was taken after the adoption of a motion, titled: “Need to Investigate the Untold Hardship Faced by Nigerian Pilgrims at the Recently Concluded 2023 Hajj,” sponsored by Ahmed Idris Wase (Plateau APC).
Wase, who was the Deputy Speaker of the 9th House, said that many public officials had no tent and were made to sleep in unhealthy places and conditions during the operation, and accused the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) mandated to cater to the pilgrims’ affairs of not ameliorating the plight of Nigerian Hajj pilgrims.
“We are aware that Nigerian pilgrims were subjected to untold hardships during the Hajj exercise from the inability of some airlines (such as Arik) to lift pilgrims due to lack of aircraft; lack of adequate tent accommodation at Mina and Arafat; substandard tents with unhealthy living conditions and environment; lack of proper medical attention to pilgrims in cases of emergency; lack of proper transportation logistics for Nigerian pilgrims; Nigerians being made to miss their flights due to stringent bottlenecks regarding withholding of their passports; and inability to secure airport slots for Nigerian airline operators for lifting of Nigerian pilgrims from Saudi Arabia back to the country and many others.
“VIP pilgrims were made to pay about $5,000 for VIP tents and despite this exorbitant amount, pilgrims were stranded while others got tents of lesser value than what they paid for.
“Some tour operators perpetrated the worst form of unprofessionalism by failing to provide services promised to pilgrims in terms of accommodation, tent, feeding or transportation.
“It is disturbing that there was the absence of emergency medical services for sick pilgrims in distress at Mina camp as many distressed patients could not be attended to due to restrictions of ambulance access to the camp.”
The House ordered the Committee on Pilgrims Affairs, when constituted, to investigate and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
It also ordered the Committee on Legislative Compliance, when constituted, to ensure implementation.
Fourteen pilgrims died during this year’s Hajj.
According to the head of the Nigerian medical team for the pilgrimage, Dr. Usman Galadima, seven pilgrims died during pre-Arafat, and that there was one casualty from Plateau State; two from Kaduna; two from Osun; one from Borno; one from Yobe; one from the Federal Capital Territory; one from Benue; while Lagos had one.
The House said that 95,000 Nigerians went for Hajj pilgrimage this year.