With 54 Nigerians Confirmed Dead In The Hajj Stampede At Mina, Saudi Arabia, President Muhammadu Buhari Orders National Hajj Commission To Account
Concerned over conflicting reports on the number of Nigerians still missing as a result of the stampede that killed about 717 pilgrims at Mina, Saudi Arabia during a symbolic stoning of the devil last Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered the Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to urgently account for all Nigerian pilgrims.
Several Nigerian pilgrims are yet to be seen following fruitless efforts by relatives to trace their whereabouts as Commission chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, also yesterday, confirmed that 54 Nigerians lost their lives in the disaster. Presidential sources say the president is worried about conflicting figures of Nigerian victims of the stampede.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said “President Buhari is very concerned that days after the unfortunate incident, some Nigerian families are still grappling with painful uncertainty over the fate of their relatives who traveled to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj.”
According to the statement, the President expects the National Hajj Commission to work with the various state pilgrim boards, Islamic organisations and private travel agencies involved in Hajj operations, to speedily provide a confirmed and verifiable report on the status of every Nigerian pilgrim to Saudi Arabia.
“President Buhari has also directed the Hajj Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to give all necessary assistance to Nigerians who are still receiving treatment for injuries suffered in Mina.
“He continues to pray that Almighty Allah will receive the souls of the dead, comfort bereaved families, heal the injured and bring all surviving Nigerian pilgrims safely home”, the statement further read.
Meanwhile, NAHCON chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, has said 54 Nigerians died in the mayhem. Mukhtar made the confirmation at a news conference in Makkah, yesterday.
He also said that 61 other pilgrims were injured during the incident. He said 42 of the deceased pilgrims were transported to Saudi Arabia by state Pilgrims’ Welfare Agencies, while 12 came through Private Tour Operators.
He said the deceased were from Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Cross River, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Sokoto, Yobe, Taraba, and Zamfara.
The chairman also said that out of the injured 61 pilgrims, 16 were transported by Private Tour Operators and the remaining 45 by state Pilgrims’ Welfare Agencies.
He said the commission was still investigating to ascertain the number and condition of some pilgrims who had gone missing after the incident. Mukhtar said the commission had set up three committees to condole with the families of the deceased, arrange befitting burial for the deceased and to collate information from eye witnesses.
– Tony Ailemen, Abuja