By Miftaudeen Raji
The Pilgrims Officer (APO) of Bida Local Government Area of Niger State, Nma Ndagana has left intending pilgrims from the State stranded as several would not be performing this year’s Hajj in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KSA due to the officer’s failure to remit millions of naira paid into his account.
According to reports, about 150 intending pilgrims had paid into the APO’s personal bank account.
Ndagana had allegedly directed that the Hajj fee be paid into his personal bank account instead of the official designated account domiciled in the Jaiz Bank.
Confirming the development, the Secretary of the Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Umar Maku Lapai, told newsmen that a committee had already been instituted to investigate the matter.
However, Lapai did not give the number of affected intending pilgrims. But the Secretary explained that the committee had received batches of complaints, with more people still coming forward with similar complaints.
The Secretary of the Committee also said that the APO registered more than the allocation given to his local government, adding that Ndagana only remitted for the assigned number of people for Bida local government.
Lapai said, “There are two ways to do it. For us in the Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Board, we have paid money for the 2, 265 people but we are yet to receive complete visas. It is the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria that is responsible for giving us the visas.
“In the case of Bida, the number of pilgrims that he (APO) registered were above the slot he was asked to register. Those that he paid their money to us have been given visas. Those that paid their money to his account were the ones with problems.
“We have set up a committee to find out what actually happened. The committee is still investigating. The affected people are coming in batches. In the first place, we registered 28 complaints. Later more people came and they are still coming,” he said.
Meanwhile, if the allegations were found to be true, the Secretary said the officials involved would not be allowed to travel, adding that the board would not take responsibility for money paid into individual accounts.
Lapai, however, could not explain the whereabouts of Ndagana.