An advocacy group, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) has accused Jaiz Bank and the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Mr. Abdullahi Mukhtar, to abduct its National Convener, Mr. IG Wala, under the pretext of defamation of character. The group made the allegation in a statement signed by Binta Usman Dawood, its Head of States Affairs.
Dated 20 December, the statement said the Mr. Mukhtar decided to use Jaiz Bank, an alleged beneficiary of a questionable contract of money collection, meant for religious rites, from pilgrims.
According to the statement, the NAHCON Chairman told a House of Representatives Committee that Jaiz Bank approached NAHCON with a request to fill in a window of opportunity. The NAHCON Board, the Mr. Mukhtar was quoted as saying, decided to engage the bank. This, said CATBAN, was done without bids being advertised.
CATBAN said it learned that a group of Nigerians in Saudi Arabia had petitioned National Assembly, alleging that the NAHCON Chairman collected Hadaya (animal sacrifice) under the pretext of making donations to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Nigeria.
Following the NAHCON Chairman’s appearance before the House of Representatives Committee, CATBAN said it investigated his explanation and discovered that no meat was sent to any IDP camp in Nigeria.
“Ever since CATBAN made this post on social media, NAHCON Chairman and Jaiz Bank have been rattled and have unleashed their resources to silence CATBAN by way of using law enforcement agents and dubious legal experts,” said the group.
It added that in its effort expose corruption in NAHCON, it discovered squalid accountability standards and lack of transparency on the part of Jaiz Bank.
“The Chairman of NAHCON went against civil service rules and sued Mr. Wala for N1.5 billion for alleged libel. The case is yet to be heard in a High Court in Abuja. All this while, the Chairman has been involved in several other unlawful means to make life difficult for Mr. Wala, but without success. The latest attempt by the Chairman is the use of his influence over Jaiz Bank,” alleged CATBAN.
The group claimed that the NAHCON Chairman realized that neither CATBAN nor Mr. Wala can be silenced by mere intimidation, the reason he decided to use the bank.
It added that it succeeded in compelling the NAHCON Chairman to refund N4.1 billion last week and also persuaded the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Hajj Operations to call for a public hearing, for which the Chairman has been served a notice of appearance.
“In view of these achievements, the Chairman vowed to use Jaiz Bank to silence Mr. Wala even if it will be done in a criminal manner,” said CATBAN.
The group warned that it will resist unlawful abduction or arrest of Mr. Wala or any member of CATBAN. It called on law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations, local and international media to pay attention to the threats it faces.