The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to urgently investigate alleged corrupt acts in the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) under the leadership of its Executive Chairman, Abdullahi Muktar Mohammed.
In a petition signed by CSNAC Chairman Olanrewaju Suraju and addressed to the anti-graft commission acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, the coalition said it has in its possession a copy of a petition written by a concerned stakeholder alleging a "cancer of corruption" in NAHCON.
According to the petition, it was alleged that Mr. Mohammed only refunded the celebrated almost N1.7 billion to 2015 Hajj pilgrims after threats were made from top-ranking NAHCON officials to expose the sharp practices and extortion resulting in the money.
The petition read: "The executive chairman is alleged to have also spearheaded the NAHCON e-wristbands project after the unfortunate incident of stampede at the 2015 Hajj. The Chairman is accused of initiating the project to fleece the commission and pilgrims of hundreds of millions of Naira.
"The project was allegedly implemented in spite of opposition to and rejection of the project by his management team. The rejection is said to be based on the commitment of the Saudi Arabia government in implementing e-wristbands for all pilgrims starting from 2016 Hajj."
The petitioner alleged that the contracts for e-wristbands were awarded to four companies as follows: Lot 1 (Northwest) and Lot 3 (South South/West/East) with a total of 39,931 pilgrims awarded to two companies allegedly fronting for the Executive Chairman and Lot 2 (North East and Central) with a total of 25,061 pilgrims awarded to another company allegedly fronting for the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal (whose office oversees NAHCON), while Lot 4 (International Pilgrims) with a total of 10,000 pilgrims went to a company allegedly fronting for the Director of Procurement at NAHCON.
"On this wristband project, each pilgrim is charged N25,000 for the wristband and a total of 74,992 pilgrims for the 2016 Hajj amounting to N1,874,800,000 (one billion, eight hundred and seventy four million, eight hundred million Naira). Meanwhile, the actual quoted cost for the job was N14,350 which amounted to N1,076,135,200."
The petition noted further that an agreement was allegedly reached on the payment of differential in the amount charged pilgrims and that paid to the companies be remitted to the leadership of NAHCON.
"Please note, the Saudi government did announced on the 29th of June, 2016 it's readiness to give all pilgrims e-wristbands with a better version starting from this year Hajj. In view of this, it is important to know:
(a) why NAHCON insisted on charging Nigerian pilgrims for the wristbands if Saudi Arabia is providing a much better version?
(b) Why NAHCON is still going on with the wristband project in spite of official confirmation from Saudi Arabia on its readiness to provide wristbands?
(c) Who are the promoters of the companies awarded the wristband contract and at what cost?
(d) How much is NAHCON charging the pilgrims for the wristbands?
"CSNAC is thereforem with this petition, demanding your prompt and urgent investigation of this matter," the anti-corruption network stated.