Posted by Onyedi Ojiabor, Abuja | 20 October 2018 | 1,617 times
The Senate ad-hoc committee on operations of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Thursday said that it uncovered what it described as “monumental fraud” in the operations of the commission.
The committee, in a 34 page report submitted to the Senate in plenary, said that the commission holds the wrong perception that monies held in trust for the Hajj pilgrims is not owned by it and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria and therefore, procurement processes in respect of the said monies are not subject to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
The report entitled “Ad-hoc committee on accommodation, logistics, feeding etc, onshore and offshore of the Nigeria pilgrims” was presented by Chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Aliero for consideration and approval.
It was however stepped down to enable senators to read and digest the document.
The committee said that it discovered over-bloated onshore and offshore charges by NAHCON levied on intending pilgrim in addition to state welfare boards.
The charges, it said, make the Hajj fare to be on the high side without recourse to the functions of the utility charges the Commission Act.
The alleged “fraudulent charges” the report said, “escalates the cost of the pilgrimage.”
The report said that the commission is under the impression that it is not among the public agencies listed in the Second Schedule of the Utilities and Charges Commission even when the Second Schedule (j) of the Act states “such other public utilities as may be determined from time to time by the Commission.”
It said “for instance, in 2017, Onshore Charges such as administrative fee, Hajj development levy, yellow card and registration forms paid to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria by the 75,000 Nigerian pilgrims that went through the states pilgrims’ welfare boards amounted to N712, 500.000.
It said that State Pilgrims Welfare Boards charge administrative and other charges which amounted to N1, 474,875,000.
It said that each pilgrim was further charged the sum of$1.33 as tent security deposit.
The report said that NAHCON and State Pilgrims Welfare Board sponsor outrageous number of officials to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the revenue generated from the pilgrims and funds from state governments.
The committee recommended among others that “the monumental fraud associated with the provision of accommodation in Madina, the subletting of bed space and other procured services rendered by the Commission between 2015 and 2018 (inclusive) should be investigated fully by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with a view to bringing culprits to book.”
The committee also recommended that henceforth, NAHCON should stop renting accommodations beyond the number of days Nigerian pilgrims will spend in Madina while all proceeds realized from renting accommodations in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 should be refunded to pilgrims who undertook the Hajj exercise in those years.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, asked senators to read the report describing its contents as weighty.
•Excerpted from The Nation report
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