President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the National Hajj Commission and the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to urgently account for all Nigerian pilgrims in the aftermath of last Thursday’s disaster at Mina.
The Presidential directive followed conflicting reports on the number Nigerians who died or suffered injuries in the catastrophe which claimed well over 700 lives worldwide.
“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,” the President via a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Mr. Shehu added, “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 in 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 chairman of the National Hajj Commission, Abdullahi Mukhtar, had on Monday put the numbers of Nigerians, who died in the stampede, at 54.
Mr. Mukhtar said the dead are from Bauchi, Borno, Cross Rivers, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, and Nasarawa states.
Others are from Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states.
Mr. Mukhtar however said some pilgrims were missing, meaning the numbers could rise. He did not give the number of those unaccounted for.
He said two committees had been set up by the commission and the hajj leadership to take care of burial arrangements.
Another committee to be headed by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration will collect information from survivors and witnesses on causes of the stampeded, he said.