From Ndubuisi Orji and Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
There was a heated debate on the floor of the House of Representatives, yesterday, over a motion calling for investigation on the collection of N25, 000 from the 2016 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
Leading the debate, the sponsor, Danburam Abubakar Nuhu said prior to the Hajj, NAHCON introduced handbands, which was intended to serve as a chip to facilitate the identification and location of any missing pilgrim. He said 66,167 pilgrims paid N25, 000 for the handband. He, however, said the handbands were not given to the pilgrims during the Hajj.
In his contribution, Aminu Shehu Shagari said it was unacceptable that N25,000 was collected from pilgrims and the item that they paid for was not given to them. He called on the House to step in and ensure that the money is retrieved and given to the pilgrims.
But, Sani Abdul raised a point of information. He said there was already a committee set up by the House to oversee the 2016 Hajj. The lawmaker said it is not proper to entertain a motion on issues relating the hajj, when the committee was yet to submit its report.
At this point the house became rowdy with many members wanting to speak on the issue.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara said the allegations were heavy and that “the information given to us is that the committee is handling it and a report is soon to be brought to us.We will look at the report on itself” and thereafter, referred it to the Nigeria-Saudi Committee on Hajj.
Contributing to the motion, the House leader, Femi Gbajabiamilia, (APC, Lagos) said the motion is ordinarily a good motion, but it seeks to preempt another report of the House. He said unless the House is saying that it cannot rely on the report of the committee it set up to oversee this year’s Hajj, setting up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the sale of hand bands to 2016 pilgrims was not necessary.
On his part, the majority whip, Hon Alhasan Ado Doguwa(APC,Kano) said the mandate given to the committee on Hajj has nothing to do with the call for investigation of the N25,000 collected from the pilgrims.He said except the hajj committee has something to hide, there is uncalled for anyone to oppose the call for probe into the hand band issue.