Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Head of Katsina State delegation to the 2019 Hajj in Saudi Arabia, Muntari Lawal, has alleged that some officials at the pilgrims welfare board defraud in the discharge of their dirties.
Lawal also disclosed how some of the officials engaged in sharp practices and profiteering to the detriment of pilgrims.
He accused the pilgrims board of shortchanging pilgrims, providing them sub-standard accommodation, and making it difficult for pilgrims to perform hitch-free Hajj.
“The leadership entrusted with the task of taking care of pilgrims in the Holy Land have consistently betrayed the government for the past 20 years, for their selfish interests,” Lawal told Governor Aminu Masari, yesterday.
He spoke while presenting a report of the 2019 hajj exercise during which he regretted that four pilgrims from the state died during the period.
“Your Excellency, each time these officials come to tell you that that they have secured accommodation for pilgrims near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, it is not true. Each time they tell you they have taken care of everything in the Holy Land for pilgrims to have some level of comfort during the Hajj, it is all lies. The accommodation they provided for women is even worse. We went to one of them and discovered they gave the women a house no human being has lived in for over 15 years; there was no sign of utilities, the house was in desolate condition,inhabited by rats and insects. There was no light or carpet in the mosque attached to the house.
“Due to some of these lapses, as well as swapping accommodation intended for legitimate pilgrims from the board, we had about 150 pilgrims without accommodation. They acquired vehicles without proper registration which tended to limit our movement to supervise the exercise and visit our pilgrims in their different locations,” he said.
Governor Masari, who received the report said: “I am happy that you have said these things in public. That is is why we dissolve the leadership of the pilgrims board at the conclusion of the 2019 Hajj exercise. We are aware of some of these things; the accommodation we paid for is not what we get at the end of the day. They collaborate with service providers in Saudi Arabia to engage in all sorts of racketeering and dupe the government.
“The most unfortunate thing is that high level Muslim leaders are involved, politicians, officials are involved. These are people who should know better, that is why they were engaged because the governor cannot be everywhere at the same time.
“We had to trust people, thinking that they have the fear of Allah. They are liable before God and they will account for what they did. Keeping long beard does not make anyone a religious person.”
Masari had ordered the reorganising the Katsina Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board as well as the law establishing it be consistent with realities of the modern world.