An ad hoc panel of Senate has uncovered what it called “monumental fraud” in the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
The panel was constituted to probe allegations of irregularities on accommodation, logistics, feeding etcetera on onshore and offshore of the Nigeria pilgrims.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the committee said, should investigate NAHCON, especially in the area of accommodation for pilgrims from 2015 to date.
The panel, headed by Sen Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi), said NAHCON has been shortchanging Nigerian pilgrims and violating several Nigerian laws, including the Public Procurement Act in its operations.
Senators had adopted three out of the 20 recommendations made by the committee in its report, but consideration was postponed to next week to allow senators study the report carefully.
The recommendations adopted were that NAHCON should immediately constitute a proper procurement planning committee in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
Again, the Senate said “all unnecessary charges by NAHCON and the States Pilgrims Welfare Boards (SPWB) such as administrative charges, Hajj development levy (N5,000), yellow card, registration forms, and other charges should be stopped immediately.”
Another recommendation adopted was that “the National Assembly should immediately commence amending the NAHCON and the Utility Charges Commission Acts to bring them to be Inn conformity with present day realities.”
But some senators kicked against the recommendation that NAHCON should be sanctioned for violating sections of the constitution, the procurement law and the NAHCON Act, saying since one a recommendation said the Auditor General should investigate the matter, there is no need for sanction yet.
In the end, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu), who presided over the plenary, advised that the consideration be postponed to give room for senators to study the report well.
The panel noted that NAHCON and SPWB sponsor “outrageous number of officials” including their relatives and cronies “just to enable them perform Hajj with fees paid by ordinary Nigerians.”
Attempts to reach the chairman of NAHCON, Bar Abdullahi Mukhtar, for reaction failed.
But an official of the commission said since the Senate has not fully adopted the report, it would be premature to comment now.