Kano, Jigawa, Katsina tackle NAHCON for deducting 810 hajj seats
NAHCON Corporate office, Abuja
By our reporter
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has deducted 810 hajj seats allocated to Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states, thereby triggering another fresh controversy few days to the commencement of airlift of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
This is coming at a time the hajj commission is still embroiled in another controversy over its arbitrary deduction of $100 from the BTA of each of the 75,000 pilgrims going through the state pilgrim boards to shore up hajj fares of some of the pilgrims.
The hajj commission announced this cuts in a letter dated May 22, 2023, and signed by NAHCON’s Commissioner in charge of Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services (PRSILS), Suleiman Imonikhe Momoh, and sent to the executive secretaries of the pilgrim boards of the three affected states
NAHCON said in the letter that it reduced the hajj seats allocations to the three states over their inability to remit hajj fare payments to the commission before the Friday, 19 May, 2023 deadline.
The hajj commission has deducted 450 seats from the 6,095 seats earlier allocated to Kano state. Kano, which has the second highest allocation after Kaduna state, is now left with 5,645 hajj seats.
For Katsina State, the hajj commission has yanked off 300 seats from its earlier allocation of 4,923. Katsina state is now left with 4,623 hajj seats.
In the case of Jigawa state, the hajj commission has deducted 60 seats from the 1,625 allocated to the state earlier. The hajj seats allocated to the state now drops to 1,565.
States kick – We have paid 100%
However, the executive secretaries of Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states pilgrim boards have denied NAHCON’s claims of non-remittance of the hajj fare payments ahead of the deadline. They said they have paid all the monies for the allocated haj seats ahead of the May 19 deadline.
The Executive Secretary of Kano State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Muhammad Aba Danbatta, told our correspondent by telephone on Tuesday that the state has remitted all its hajj fare funds to the commission ahead of the deadline.
“What NAHCON did was surprising to us. We have remitted the hajj fare money 100 percent,” Mr Danbatta said.
He said he has instructed his banks to produce evidence of remittances to NAHCON. I was in NAHCON to seek for 200 additional seats only to be told that 450 seats have been deducted from Kano state.
“I think the problem is between the PRSILS and the Account Department of NAHCON. They have not done their reconciliation before they come up with this. But we are not defaulting. We have paid 100 percent. In fact, it is NAHCON that is owing us because we have money with them,” the ES said.
“The board’s Director of Finance and Administration (DFA) will travel to Abuja tomorrow (Wednesday) and meet with NAHCON officials with the receipts and other evidence of remittances,” Mr Danbatta said.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of Katsina State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Badaru Bello Karofi, said he knew the board had remitted all the hajj fares to NAHCON before the deadline.
Mr Karofi said, “Yes I know the issue but contrary to what they’re saying, the board had settled the commission before the deadline. But like I’ve told you earlier, I’m at the hospital with a family member. When I return back to the office tomorrow, I’ll call and link you up with the director so that he can offer more explanations but we’ve paid.”
Like his counterparts in Kano and Katsina, the Executive Secretary of Jigawa State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Ahmad Umar Labbo, told our reporter on telephone that the state has remitted all the money for hajj seats allocated to it before the deadline.
“We have paid 100 percent before the expiration. I don’t why NAHCON is coming up with this,” Mr Labbo said.
Other stakeholders who spoke to this newspaper in confidence said the hajj seats deductions may be “politically motivated.”
“The commission is trying to create an unnecessary crisis for the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. This is evident from the fact that these states have already made their arrangements such as accommodations in Makkah, tents in Muna and Arafat, transports, feeding, among other services based on the numbers given to them earlier. To come back and slash these numbers is a precipice for showdown with the pilgrims,” one of the stakeholders said.