2015 Hajj Stampede: FG Commends Saudi Arabia Over Compensation

By Bukar Bolori

The Federal Government of Nigeria has commended Saudi Authority over compensation of Nigerians who died in the 2015 during the annual pilgrimage to Holy sites in the Islamic country.

Five Nigerians lost their lives and two sustained various degree of injuries, however the Saudi Authority has compensated those affected.

The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, Faisal Al-Ghamdi, on Wednesday handed over on behalf of the Saudi government the cheques to five representatives of those who lost their lives and the other two Nigerians who sustained injuries

Director, Consular and Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bolaji Akinremi, led the Nigerian delegation in the company of the Chairman/CEO, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Zikrullah Hassan, to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja.

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador, who spoke in Arabic, prayed for the repose of the souls of the departed and prayed that God continue to console their families.

Ambassador Akinremi commended the Saudi government and appreciated them for the kind gesture and the hand of fellowship extended to the family of the affected Nigerians.

He said: “On behalf of the Nigerian government, we want to commend the Saudi authorities, particularly the Ambassador here who during his own tenure, one year of arrival here, he took this up, I remember several meetings we held together in Foreign Affairs, with His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama, His Excellency Zubairu Dada, and His Excellency Tanimu Aduda where we brought this to their attention that this is pending.”

He praised the effort of the Ambassador of Saudi, the Ambassador took it up, “even his predecessor, may his soul rest in perfect peace he did his own best. We must also give kudos to Ambassador Yahaya Lawal, our Ambassador in Riyadh, who took up the challenge as well, I think this credits goes to everyone.”

His said: “Nigerian government is saying our friendship with Saudi will continue, we are also encouraging people not to be discourage that one accident is not enough to stop people from performing their spiritual responsibility. We will continue to relate very well with the Saudi authority, we will continue to promote our friendship and we look forward to having good news from the families of the beneficiaries, we don’t expect this to lead to fracas where they will not be able to amicably share this among themselves, but rather going to make their faith in God get stronger and their family bond to get stronger”

Ambassador Bolaji said, “we really excited by this news, we are here we have seen it the checks has been issued in the names of the representatives of the victims, as you know 5 people died, they cannot be here physically, so the families of those 5 people sent representatives, 2 others sustains various level of injuries and they were all compensated. This have great significant, number one, the Saudi Authority fulfilled their promises, also despite the fact that the ugly incident was not called by anybody, the Saudis authorities still compensate the people as they recognized that the people left the country for pilgrimage and not intention to go and die. “

According to the Bolaji, the compensations were in two grades, those who died that is permanent lose, compensation cannot bring them back but they have families and responsibilities, they were given 1 Million Saudi riyal, those who sustained injury are given half a million Saudi riyal.

On his part, Zikrullah Hassan, the Chairman/CEO, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said, we “7 people were compensated, 5 representatives of the dead and 2 who suffered injuries. I want to commend everyone for this effort, the Hajj Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Ambassador in Saudi Arabia who has worked round the clock to ensure that today becomes a reality.”

The NAHCON Chairman advice those intended to go the Hajj this year to upgrade the techonology skills, in his words, “we advise those who want to go to Hajj to queue in and get ready because Hajj this year will be technologically moderated. It is not going to be as usual, we are ready at the Hajj Commission and all the States are up to it”

In September 24, 2015, during the annual Muslim pilgrimage an accident occurred near the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, that stands as the deadliest in the long history of hajj disasters.

At least 717 people taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage were killed in a stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca, officials in Saudi Arabia says. Another 863 people were injured in the incident at Mina, which occurred as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite. It is the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years.

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