Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
No fewer than 200 passports belonging to Sokoto State pilgrims have been recovered by the National Hajj Commission Of Nigeria (NAHCON).
The passports were initially declared missing as a result of its mixed up in Madina, according to a statement issued by Aminu Abdullahi Abubakar, Director of Press, Deputy Governor’s Office.
The statement quoted representative of the Commission in Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Yahaya Shuaibu, to have stated this when the NAHCON team visited Sokoto State Pilgrims tents in Mina Monday night.
The statement said the team leader was answering to a complaint made by the Sokoto State Amirul Hajj and Sokoto Deputy Governor Hon. Manir Muhammad Dan’iya about the fate of those passports which were reported missing in Madina before they were transited to Makka for the Hajj exercise.
The statement also noted that the development had forced the pilgrims to travel to Makka for Hajj exercise without the official documents.
“If not for the good understanding of the Saudi officials on the road from Madina to Makka, the state contingent would have missed the just concluded Hajj,” it stated.
Shuaibu said information reaching NAHCON in Makka indicated that all the passports have been recovered and taken to Muassasa in Makka for continuous preparation to return them back to Nigeria as scheduled.
He said the mix up was caused due to the introduction of new Mutawif’s in Madina, assuring that “in due time they will cope and adjust with the drill.”
The Commission also promised to look into the issue of poor sanitary environment raised by the contingent, noting that “pilgrims paid all the services, so they should not be short changed with any amenities during the Hajj.
“As for the distance to Jamrah (where the ‘Shetan’ is stoned by pilgrims) and limited space in Mina Tents for the state, Amirul Hajj Hon. Manir Dan’iya said Sokoto brought 3,496 pilgrims but the tent space provided were not enough, with a third of pilgrims having to sleep out in the open in the tent area to observe their three days mandatory stay in Mina.”
The Deputy Governor appealed to the Federal Government to halt its intention of disengaging from Hajj operations, saying that “Nigerian still needs the Federal Government’s full involvement in the affairs as states habe limited resources to cater for the well-being of their pilgrims.”