6 Nigerian pilgrims die, 30 mental cases reported as Hajj rites begin


The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Private Tour Operators have airlifted all the 95,000 Nigerians to join millions of other Muslims in Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj slated to commence Monday, June 25.

NAHCON, which started the airlift operations 25th May, 2023, concluded the exercise on 24th June, 2023.

Blueprint reports that the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umrah allocated 95,000 Hajj slots to Nigeria.

Of this figure, NAHCON gave 75,000 slots to 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and shared the balance of the remaining 20,000 among private tour operators.

Today, NAHCON will move Nigerian pilgrims for this year’s Hajj to Muna, which is about nine kilometers away from Makkah, thus signalling the commencement of Hajj rites.

Coordinator of the commission’s committee for the movement (Taraddudiyyah), Dr. Aliyu Abubakar Tanko, told newsmen that all stakeholders in the movement to Muna, Arafah, Musdalifah (Mashã’ir) and back to Muna and Makkah later, had resolved to ensure a hitch-free movement, comfort, quality; timely feeding arrangement and provision of all necessary logistics for the pilgrims, during their five- day stay at the Mashã’ir.

Briefing stakeholders early Sunday morning during the pre-Arafah conference in Makkah, NAHCON Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, said all the 95,000 pilgrims were successfully airlifted.

The NAHCON boss, who attributed the success of the airlift operations to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led federal government and the support of the Vice President Kashim Shettima, said the feat was last achieved about 10 years ago.

The chairman noted that every Hajj exercise was an experimentation in which new problems encountered were tackled and reviewed to prevent future occurrences.

He expressed hope that this year’s operation would go down in history as the most outstandingly successful Hajj ever witnessed in Nigeria.

To ensure that all the pilgrims were airlifted to the Holy land, NAHCON chairman revealed that they took proactive measures in entering an agreement for five rescue flights, adding that “we have successfully airlifted all Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj rites”.

6 die, 30 mental cases recorded

Also in his presentation, NAHCON Head of the Medical Team, Dr. Usman Galadima, disclosed that the 524-member  medical team posted to seven clinics in Makkah and Madinah,  had so far attended to 15, 860 and recorded six deaths since the commencement of operations 26th May, 2023.

He also said 30 of the pilgrims had psychiatric issues, seven pilgrims had fractures and eight cases of communicable diseases were recorded.

Galadima also hinted that NAHCON would be operating 18 clinics to care for pilgrims at the Mashã’ir sites.

Galadima said: “For the well-being of Nigerian pilgrims, we have put in place emergency response, ambulances in good shape; we shall continue health education and awareness campaign.

“We will assist as many people as possible. Those we can take care of, we will, those we cannot, we will take them to Saudi Hospital. We have been managing those with mental health in our clinics. And all of them will likely perform Hajj because they are a bit stable now.”

…Osun pilgrims reject food

Meanwhile, the Osun State Pilgrims Welfare Board (OSBWB) has appealed to pilgrims over alleged poor treatment in the Holy land of Makkah.

The appeal came on the heels of protest by the pilgrims who were said to have rejected poor food served them in Makkah.

A Saudi source told one of reporters that the Osun pilgrims had endured until they were fed up and protested Sunday. 

“It is true that there was protest because people rejected the food they gave us. We agreed that we are not in our home and we are here to worship, but it was beyond endurance today (Sunday).

“Though the authorities have intervened and they have promised to find solution and improved on the food, they sent a message to that effect,” the source stated.

A statement by the board secretary, Sanni Bolaji, sent to the WhatsApp group of the pilgrims and obtained by Blueprint, appealed to the pilgrims and promised to make improvement.

The statement reads: “We are very much aware of the ugly development around the meals being served by our Service Provider- Zad Al Wafood. 

“We are working tirelessly to resolve this issue and improve on the situation. We are also in contact with NAHCON on possible replacement of the Service Provider in view of the obvious lack of capacity on their part. 

“In sha Allah, we are working towards a remarkable improvement in the quality and quantity of meals being served to you, our esteemed pilgrims. We sincerely apologise for the unfortunate and unforeseen development.”

About Abdulrahman Zakariyau, Makkah and Lateef Ibrahim Osogbo

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