From Yakubu Mustapha, Minna
About 30 intending Pilgrims from Niger state, feared to have been swindled, may not go to Saudi Arabia for this year’s pilgrimage as the State Pilgrims Welfare Commission (NSPWC) has, allegedly failed to remit over N30 million earlier paid by the intending pilgrims to the National Hajj Commission for allocation of seats.
Peoples Daily investigation revealed that this is due to alleged failure of an Area Pilgrim Welfare Officer (APWO) of the Local government, (names withheld), to remit the funds collected from the Bosso intending pilgrims for the payment of their hajj seats to the State Pilgrims’ Commission.
The suspect is said to have been handed to security operatives.
The crisis began when the Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Council (NSPWC), investigated the matter to determine what was causing the delay in remittance of the money from the council, and it was discovered that the officer may have swindled the intending pilgrims, as he could not give any satisfactory explanation as to what stopped him from remitting the said money to the appropriate authority.
The NSPWC spokesperson, Mallam Sani Auwal, who confirmed the non remittance, said however, that the officer was not an employee of the commission but appointed by his LGC to coordinate hajj activities between the LGC and the commission.
According to him, it is against the law to collect cash for the payment of hajj as all intending pilgrims were expected to make payment through bank draft in favour of the commission, adding that when the suspect has been handed over to security operatives.
Auwal, who said he could not confirm the exact number of the swindled intending pilgrims, however said hope is not lost as arrangement is in the pipeline by
the leadership of the affected LGC for alternative funds for the victims of the fraud to enable them perform Hajj.