Rabiu Omaku, Makkah
- NAHCON Confirms 56 Nigerians Dead
The Public Relation Officer of the Nasarawa State Muslim Pilgrim Welfare Board, Abdul-Razaq Muhammed has confirmed that One Pilgrim from Nasarawa state, Ahmadu Mai Hujja Mai Nasara from Gadabuke, Toto Local Government died in the stampede.
Razaq opined that 2 persons, Rashida and one unidentified male pilgrim’s whereabouts is still unknown four days after the incident that claimed over 700 lives at Jamrat.
The Pro affirmed that investigation is still on as the board would release a statement to that effect.
This has brought the number of death pilgrims from Nasarawa state to two, it will be recalled that the state had earlier recorded the death of Ladan Dauda, who held from Nasarawa Local Government, who also passed away after a brief illness.
In a recent encounter with the media aide of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Uba Mana, he stated that illustrious Nigerians lost their lives in Sallah stampede at Jamrat, He gave the disclosure during an interview with selected Journalists from Nasarawa state at the secretariat of the Media team.
Mana hinted that three Nigerians, A female Journalist, Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, A columnist with the Daily Trust lost her life, Others according to him include a University Don, Professor Al-Miskken from Borno state and pharmacist with the medical team of NAHCON, Hafsat Shitu.
Further investigation uncovered that Abubakar Jega, brother to ex-chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Abubakar Jega, The Emir of Zing, Taraba state were also among the victims.
On the number of Nigerian casualties that lost their lives in Thursday stampede, Uba Mana asserted that the medical team of NAHCON are working round the clock to identify Nigerian pilgrims deposited in hospitals in Saudi Arabia.
“Only the three names are authentic and we will get back to the press after the final statistics and report by the medical team,”
He further confirmed that four persons were reported to have been missing from Kaduna state but later resurfaced and been re-united with relatives.
While in Gombe state five persons were declared missing and 9 deaths were recorded in Sokoto state.
Meanwhile, 56 Nigerians have so far been confirmed dead, this was disclosed last night at a news conference in Makkah by the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Mukhtar. According to him, 77 others were injured, while many are still missing. The NAHCON chief said most of the victims and the injured came from the North.
Some of the affected states are Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, Taraba, Zamfara, Ogun
Mukhtar said: “42 pilgrims under the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards have been confirmed dead alongside two officials from NAHCON. Also, 12 pilgrims who came in through tour operators died in the stampede too.
“I think 61 state pilgrims’ welfare boards and 16 from tour operators (Private Hajj Operators) got injured in the stampede. We will update you as the information comes.”
On the missing pilgrims, he said:”We cannot give you the full figure until the ongoing head count is concluded.”
Meanwhile, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the Director of Muslim Rights Concern, an Islamic has recounted how the incident occurred.
Akintola said: “As eyewitnesses of the gory stampede incident, we testify that it was caused by security breakdown on the part of the Saudi authorities. We left Muzdalifah for Mina around 6am on that fateful day. We branched in the NAHCON camp to drop our personal effects and headed straight to Jamrat which was less than three kilometres away. To our surprise, the road was blocked by Egyptian pilgrims who had cast their own stones and were returning to their camp. Instead of taking the route designated for returning pilgrims, they stubbornly took the route meant for those who were going.
“The road became narrow and movement became difficult. The atmosphere became charged and even breathing and visibility were affected. The few policemen around desperately threw water at us to save us from collapsing. It became glaring to us at that moment that a monumental stampede was just around the corner
“The Saudi authorities therefore lied when they tried to put the blame squarely on African pilgrims. The stampede would not have occurred at all if Saudi security agents had disallowed pilgrims returning from the Jamrat from taking the same route on their way back.
“The practice over the years has always been to take a detour but this was not enforced last Thursday. The fact that the road to the same Jamrat became very free and safe yesterday and this (Saturday) morning when Saudi security agents strictly enforced the rules by disallowing returning pilgrims to use the same route as those going proves that our hypothesis is correct.
“This is criminal negligence and the Saudi authorities must be held accountable. We urge the Nigerian government to support NAHCON’s stand on this. Nigeria must demand compensation from the Saudis for families of the bereaved.
“We should also task the Saudis to involve the world Muslim Ummah in the planning and implementation of the annual Hajj exercise in view of the emerging scenario of complacency on the part of the Saudi authorities.”
MURIC hailed NAHCON for insisting that Nigeria should be part of any investigation of the tragedy.