Hajj Stampede: Saudi Arabia ‘Shuns’ Nigeria Request On Probe

imageFifty four days after the September 24 stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia where 300 Nigerians died, Saudi Arabia government is yet to respond to Nigeria’s request to be part of the committee set up to probe the incident, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said.
The Commissioner, Planning, Research Statistic Information and Library Service (PRSILS) of NAHCON Dr. Saleh Okenwa told reporters yesterday in Abuja that the number of Nigerians confirmed dead in the stampede is 274, those injured and on admission in Jeddah, two while 44 are officially missing.
He was speaking at the end of a high level stakeholders meeting involving officials of the ministries of health and foreign affairs, Board members of the commission, zonal coordinators and states whose pilgrims falls within the missing on modalities for the DNA test of family members for identification processes.
“The Saudi government set up a committee on the stampede, the committee is yet to submit their findings. Nigeria requested to be part of the committee investigating the incident, but we are yet to receive response from the Saudi authority,” Okenwa said.
The Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed however said that it was the prerogative of the Saudi government to decide to let Nigeria and other countries to be part of the committee or decide to be let alone.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Sultan of Sokoto and President of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, Nigeria missions in Saudi Arabia and officials of NAHCON had demanded the inclusion of Nigeria in the Saudi government probe committee ordered set up by King Salman after the incident.
He also said that Nigeria was yet to receive any compensation pledged by Saudi Arabia for the victims of the September 11 crane crash at the precinct of Ka’aba with six and four Nigerians among those killed and injured respectively.
Also the Emir of Kano and the leader of the Nigeria Central Coordinating Team (CCT) for this year’s hajj Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II demanded that the Saudi Arabia government publish the details of victims of the stampede on a dedicated website.
He made the demand at the post Arafat conference organised by NAHCON at the Nigeria Consulate office, Jeddah, adding: “At this age of technology, why can’t the Saudi authority put the photos of the dead on a website so that people can identified them easily…”
Sokoto State which has the highest number of dead pilgrims at 138 also has the highest number of missing at 24.
Other states in the missing lists whose state officials attended yesterday’s meeting are Gombe, Yobe, FCT and Plateau states with one pilgrim each; while Borno has three, and Adamawa, Taraba, Kwara, Ondo, Jigawa, Kano and Rivers states have two. Two private tour operators equally have one missing pilgrim each.

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