The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said the commission would refund N1.7 billion to some of the pilgrims of the 2015 hajj.
This is just as the Commission has opened applications and screening of air carriers for the 2016 pilgrimage.
Speaking on the matter during the inauguration of the 2016 hajj carriers screening committee in Abuja, the executive chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Mukhtar, explained that the money was for services not rendered to the pilgrims in terms of feeding, accommodation, and for those who were unable to perform the hajj last year.
“After the 2015 hajj, the account department of NAHCON carried out a thorough reconciliation with all service providers, both the Nigerian service providers and the Saudi service providers, and they were able to come up with substantial amount that will be refunded to all the state pilgrims’ welfare boards and agencies and this amount is to the tune of about N1.7 billion.”
“The essence of the screening is to ensure transparency and make sure that all the applicants are in compliance with the rules and regulation governing aviation industry in Nigeria as well as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And more importantly is to ensure improved and better service delivery for the pilgrims, who paid their hajj and air fare.”
“We believe in the leadership of the state board, we appreciate their capacities to effect the refund in line with financial regulations and in line with the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
It would be recalled, two major mishaps occurred during last year’s pilgrimage. On September 11, a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while on September 24, a stampede occurred in Mina during the ritual of “stoning the devil”.
At least 2,177 pilgrims were confirmed dead in the crush and stampede, Associated Press count stated.
If AP’s tally is accurate, it would make last year’s stampede the deadliest-ever hajj incident. The previous record dates back to 1990, when 1,426 people were killed in a stampede inside a pedestrian tunnel leading out of Mecca towards Mina.