Abdullahi Mukhtar

The National Hajj Commission of Nigerian (NAHCON) said it has commenced an investigation to unravel what led to abandoning of 487 pilgrims who could not make it to this year’s hajj.

The passengers, who could not be flown to the holy land by their agents, staged a protest at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport on Thursday.

They accused the tour operators of deceiving them, to the time when the Saudi authorities closed the airspace on August 6.

Addressing reporters at the tent city of Mina, Saudi Arabia, Friday evening, NAHCON’s acting commissioner of operations, Abdullahi Saleh, assured that the commission will ensure sanction against the defaulting tour operators.

Mr Saleh said the commission “will investigate from the beginning what led to this situation, and to find out who and who are involved.

“The primary objective is to ensure that those pilgrims have gotten back their own rights even if it means they get back their money and their culprits are brought to book so that it serves as deterrent for future occurrence”.

Mr Saleh said the commission would consider withdrawing the licenses of the culprits or prosecuting them for their actions.

The commissioner however absolved NAHCON of blame in the logjam, saying the agents did not seek the help of the commission at the appropriate time.

He said though the tour operators have free hand to choose the air carriers to use in airlifting their pilgrims, the commission often advises them to seek its help when they run into trouble.

“Up to this time, I can tell you none of them came to us to explain what happened or seek for help, apart from the agent of Flynas which they approached.

“We tried to work with Flynas at the last minute to salvage the situation but by that time, it was too late,” he said.

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