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Mina: NAHCON decries prevalence of fake pilgrims, demands refunds over poor services

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Sunday decried the invasion of Mina and Arafat by fake pilgrims which resulted in inadequate tents in Mina.

The Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, stated this during a working visit to Mutawif for Pilgrims from African non-Arab countries, in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“First, I would like to react to the fact that there was an invasion of this year’s Hajj by illegal pilgrims and it was embarrassing.

“I don’t know the percentage but we saw people who had no business in Mina and a few days later they turned Mina into a market place and a carnival.

“However, we were not in a position to checkmate them. We do not have the security control because there was no way we could handle the issue, an embarrassment to us.

“There was no way we could check them. Only the appropriate authorities can do that.”

Hassan said that the same tent space used for the 2022 Hajj of about 43,000 pilgrims, was the same tent Nigeria used for 95,000 pilgrims for this year’s hajj.

“In view of the inadequate tent space, many pilgrims who looked towards an enjoyable Hajj had to find themselves under the sun for days.

“And they had nowhere to go but remain under the sun. Many didn’t know that the best we can do as a Hajj mission is only to complain. We had no power or control over the issue.

“We were just helpless and this is not a good one for the pilgrims who have looked towards an enjoyable Hajj.”

He said like the issue of tents, the issue of food was poorly served by the company, adding that meals had no Nigerian touch.

According to him, “This year, a lot of food served to pilgrims was not eaten and even when they came, they were very late.

“NAHCON was helpless on the issues of the tent space and feeding. We had no control and management but we take the blame because the pilgrims know us they don’t know you.

“They believed we were responsible, yet we are helpless. We also went through the pain. Some of our places were turned into a refuse dump and at times some of our toilets lacked water.”

The NAHCON boss, therefore, demanded that going forward, the Commission should be allowed to handle feeding of pilgrims at Mina and Arafat to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims get value for their money.

“As far as feeding is concerned, I think it should just return to the commission because if you return feeding to us we will be able to manage our problems among ourselves.

“We will be able to screen the caterers and ensure that they have the Nigerian touch. The food we had this year doesn’t have the Nigerian touch at all.

“And, therefore, we will write a letter of request for refund.”

Speaking on behalf of the Executive Secretaries of the 36 States and the FCT Chairmen of Pilgrims Boards, Alhaji Salihu Abubakar of Adamawa, said the contracted company was taking a risk by insisting on feeding pilgrims in Mina and Arafat.

He said every state board complained about the lack of food, adding that the contracted company will fast lose its image and the confidence of the pilgrims.

“He cited the Adamawa State pilgrims tents, where there was no lunch and dinner on June 26 and there was no breakfast on June 27 and there were very few plates of lunch given on June 27.

“It was when we were on our way to Muzzalifah that food packs that did not contain water and juice were given to us and I, as the Executive Secretary and my entire tent, didn’t have a single bottle of water and there was nowhere we could get water.

“On reaching Muzdalifah, some of us trekked up to Jamrat and we came back to our tents in Mina on 28 June and there was no food, no breakfast and no lunch.”

Responding, Mr Bador Bafakeeh, the Chief Executive of the contracted company, said the company observed the huge number of illegal pilgrims in the Nigerian tents in Mina and Arafat which made most of the tents very crowded.

According to him, the company checked all the number of pilgrims which increased to maybe 30 to 40 per cent than the agreed number.

“The tents were customized with the number of pilgrims agreed on and we tried to maintain it with the food and all utility services we agreed on.

“Most of our video records show that there were many illegal pilgrims in different tents when we were sharing food. A lot of official reports had been written regarding all of these cases from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and some government entities.”

He assured that the company would look into all the issues raised by NAHCON and subsequently convene another meeting with the Commission and all stakeholders to find a common ground.

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Emirate crisis: FG will be held responsible for violence in Kano – Atiku

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government would be held responsible if violence breaks out in Kano State over the emirate crisis.

Atiku said Tinubu’s government was inviting anarchy to Kano State by providing security for the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero.

On Friday, Governor Abba Yusuf had deposed Bayero while reinstating Lamido Sanusi as the 15th Emir of Kano.

Posting on X, Atiku cautioned the federal government against destabilising Kano State.

According to Atiku: “The action of the Federal Government in deploying soldiers in Kano in the tussle over the throne of the ancient city is an upset to the peace and security of the state, and also in breach of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

“The foregoing circumstances happened within the confines of the law and in compliance with the powers conferred on the governor as provided by Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; and also in consultation with the kingmakers of Kano, reappointed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (also known as Muhammadu Sanusi II) as the 16th Emir of Kano State and accordingly handed him a letter of appointment.

“It is surprising that in the early hours of today, exactly at about 5:30 am the former Emir of Kano, His Majesty Aminu Ado Bayero, backed by Federal might made their way into the Nasarawa Palace of the Kano Emirate while the reappointed Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II was at the Gidan Dabo, which is the main residence of the Emir of Kano.

“In this wise, the former Emir could not have made his way into the Nasarawa Palace without the support of the Federal Government having done so with the support of the army and other security personnel in his company. The deployment of soldiers in extra constitutional matters such as this undermines the integrity of the Nigerian military.

“We need to remind the Tinubu administration that Kano State is known for peace and harmony spanning thousands of years and any attempt to destablise the peace of the Land of Commerce shall be resisted. Recall that Muhammadu Sanusi II was dethroned on 9th March, 2020: dethroned, Kano forged on in peace without any fracas.

“We wish to state unequivocally that if for any reason, law and order breaks down in Kano State, particularly Kano Municipal, the Federal Government should be held responsible as the act of providing security cover to the former Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero to come back to Kano is an invitation to anarchy.”

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Justice’ll prevail – Deposed Kano Emir Bayero breaks silence

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The deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero, has said justice will prevail over the issue surrounding the emirates in the state.

Bayero urged relevant authorities to ensure justice because nobody is above the law.

Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State had dethroned Bayero as the 15th Emir of the state.

Speaking on Saturday, the deposed Emir urged residents to maintain law and order. He spoke at the mini-palace where he has since returned to after his dethronement.

According to Ado-Bayero: “I call on the people to remain law-abiding while awaiting the outcome of the legal process in this tussle.

“We call on the authority to do justice in this matter. Kano is a very influential state in Nigeria. Whatever affects Kano affects Nigeria. May peace reign in Kano. We pray for Allah to bless Kano with responsible and just leaders.

“Justice is the way to go on every issue. There will be justice. Nobody is above the law. We will accept whatever the law says. I appreciate all the people who have shown concern. As I said, justice will take its course. We will keep on praying for peace in Kano State. May Allah the Almighty protect us.”

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Nigerian airports most expensive globally – NAHCO

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Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc has set an N100 billion revenue target within the next five years.

The projection was made known by the Group chairman of the company, Dr Seinde Fadeni, at the sideline of its Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Saturday.

In achieving this, the company noted that it had concluded plans to diversify its investment portfolio to create new jobs and contribute significantly to resolving the country’s foreign exchange crisis.

NAHCO which was established in 1979, provides aviation cargo, aircraft handling, passenger facilitation, crew transportation, refuelling and aviation training services from its base at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

According to Fadeni, the company is convinced that the food export holds significant potential for foreign exchange earnings because of its impact on the livelihoods and prosperity of Nigerians.

He said though the company is navigating safely around the myriad of challenges confronting the air transport space, he urged the government to look at ways to improve airport infrastructure and reduce the financial burden for airlines and passengers to keep pace with the future growth plan.

He said ” NAHCO believes that the government at the centre should work towards reducing the financial burden for airlines and passengers by reviewing applicable taxes. This way, more payees would be brought into the tax net. Not too long ago, the International Air Transport Association declared that Nigerian airports charge foreign airlines about 27 levies.

“This makes Nigerian airports the most expensive in the world, discouraging airlines from flying into the country. This is not the kind of laurel Nigeria should be proud of. It is a disincentive to investment for both active and prospective investors. The government should address this situation. Government should also heed the industry’s calls for the harmonisation of the regulatory environment, particularly at the ports in a way that aligns with global best practices. The nation’s Ease of Doing Business mantra should be in practice and not in theory only.”

He further said that though multiple cost-related challenges characterised 2023, the increased cost of handling an aircraft cannot be easily passed on to the airline by ground handling companies because any proposed rate hike would require the approval of the industry regulator – Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

He said, “The very act of getting new rates approved has its challenges as well. It is therefore not uncommon to see ticket prices rising geometrically while ground handling rates charged by service providers to airlines remain solidly stagnant.

“Our push towards birthing a global integrated logistic giant is taking good shape with the coming into operations of new subsidiaries.”

Also speaking, its Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Indranil Gupta said the company intends to diversify investment into other sectors of the economy to grow.

“We will continue to leverage our strength and market insights to pursue organic and strategic growth initiatives to expand our market presence and revenue streams

“We plan to comprehensively refresh our fleet of ground support equipment to replace ageing equipment and increase the numbers in our fleet to meet the ever-increasing customer needs and expectations.

“We are already embracing digitalisation and innovation, investing in cutting-edge technologies and solutions to enhance our service offerings, operational efficiency and competitiveness. By harnessing the power of data analytics, automation and predictive maintenance, we aim to stay ahead of the industry trends and deliver superior value to our clients ”

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