THE National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has confirmed the death of eight more Nigerian pilgrims who took part in this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
This increased the number of deaths among the pilgrims from 10, which was recorded as of Arafat day, to 18.
Head of NAHCON’s medical team, Dr Ibrahim Kana, made the confirmation at the post-Arafat stakeholders meeting held at NAHCON’s head office in Umul Jud, Makkah.
Kana, however, described the death rate for the 2016 Hajj as the lowest in five years and attributed the development to enhanced sanitation, increased medical awareness and compressed national medical team.
He listed states that lost pilgrims as Kwara, Kogi, Bauchi, Taraba, Niger, Kaduna, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as international pilgrims.
He said two pilgrims died in Madinah, three in Muna while 13 died in Makkah, including a man who suffered renal failure.
According to Kana, despite repeated warnings, the medical team detected about five pregnant women who escaped into Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, NAHCON chairman, Alhaji Abdullah Mukhtar, stated that the commission would not hesitate to sanction any state whose pilgrims embarked on agitation at the airport.
He also said that all states who failed to give their pilgrims BTA as well as those who collected Adiyya (money for ram slaughtering) and failed to remit same to NAHCON would be penalised.
In another development, Nigeria is set to protest the seizure of electronic wristbands taken to Saudi Arabia for use by its pilgrims, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.
The Consulate-General, Nigeria Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Muhammad Yunusa, said this at the post Arafat meeting organised by NAHCON on Friday in Makkah.
The wristbands were introduced by NAHCON to monitor each pilgrim’s movement and facilitate easy identification when the need arose.
However, thousands of the items were seized at the airport in Madinah by security officials and all entreaties by Nigerian officials for release fell on deaf ears.
Mr Yunusa said the action of Saudi authorities ran counter to the understanding reached by the two governments before the introduction of the wristbands.