By Salisu Sani-Idris
The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a Civil Society Organisation, has called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to screen all tents in Muna to weed out fake pilgrims.
The National Coordinator of the CSO, Malam Muhammad Ibrahim, made the call in a statement isdued on Monday in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Ibrahim said the CSO observed with dismay the lack of spaces for Nigerian pilgrims to this year’s Hajj in Muna camp leading to thousands being stranded.
“Our initial findings show that the lack of space for the pilgrims was as a result of two major issues and lapses. Firstly, the Muassasa allocated the same number of tents to Nigerian pilgrims this year as they did 2022.
“However, while the Nigerian contingent to Hajj 2022 was about 45,000, Saudi Authorities allocated 95,000 slots this year. It therefore, makes no sense that the same spaces are allocated for the two contingents.
“Secondly, the Saudi based security personnel deployed to man the tents in the area allocated to Nigerian pilgrims opened the entrances much earlier than the arrival of real pilgrims and the fake ones, mostly made up of illegal immigrants from Nigeria, popularly called ‘Tukari’, took over the spaces.”
He said that fake pilgrims went as far as producing fake wrist bands and trackers to hoodwink the security personnel.
The national coordinator, therefore, in the interim suggested that all officials from NAHCON and the 36 states and FCT should vacate the tents they are presently occupying to allow stranded Nigerian pilgrims to stay there temporarily.
“Priority should be given to only female officials. Also, NAHCON and the states should immediately go into action by screening all pilgrims inside the tent in order to weed out all fake pilgrims.
“We are sad to note that there was very poor supply of food to the pilgrims on the first day of stay in Muna. Most of the caterers brought food very late.
“We call on NAHCON to blacklist these caterers against future Hajj operations,” the group advised. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)