The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has debunked allegations of conspiracy on pilgrims accommodations, feeding, logistics and offshore and on shore levelled against it by an ad hoc panel of the Senate, saying the allegations were based on wrong information and conclusions.
The Senate’s ad hoc panel, constituted to investigate allegations of irregularities in NAHCON’s offshore and onshore operations, said it had uncovered monumental fraud in the operations of the commission.
But the hajj commission in its report, signed by the acting secretary of the commission, M. Ahmed, said the claims by the Senate probe panel that “NAHCON does not have procurement planning committee, plan or officers; that commission issues dud cheques; rented houses in Makkah that are 5 to 10 km from the Haram; gives preferences to a company owned by a Nigerien; doubled transportation charge in Saudi Arabia from SR180 to SR360 and that certain countries pulled out from Saudi policy on traffic sharing and many other allegations are not true or misinformed assertions that can’t be proved or substantiated.”
It added that the failure of the Senate probe panel to meet Saudi authority and organisations that matter during its fact-finding mission to Saudi Arabia, made the findings inconclusive and calculated attempt to rubbish NAHCON and its leadership.
The hajj body also dismissed the claims that it is violating the procurement law, saying that all its procurement processes followed due process and insisted that the increase in hajj fares, which prompted the investigation, was due to the increase in exchange rates.
On alleged hidden charges, the commission said it is shocking that the allegation is being made, despite evidence tendered before the ad hoc committee, and other committees that have investigated the commission.
It said Hajj Development Levy funds are yet to be spent and are domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria which the committee has actually verified.
The commission admitted that it mandated its accommodation providers in Medina to rent out the hotels when not in use but the amounts realised were transparently reported to the government.
NAHCON also refuted claims that it underpaid rent realised from hotels. “The claim that only N5million was paid as against over N1billion is a callous and reckless claim by the committee.”
On Refundable Deposits, NAHCON said all tent security and similar deposits not utilised are refunded to pilgrims annually.
“The commission in March 2016, refunded the sum of N1.75billion to Pilgrims Boards of the 36 states of the country and the FCT for onward refund to pilgrims. Similarly, it refunded the sum of N526million in 2017.”
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