Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Saudi Arabia has released the compensation for six Nigerians that died when a crane crashed in the Grand Mosque, Makkah in 2015.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), confirmed the payment in a statement yesterday after it was briefed by the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Justice Muhammad Isa Dodo (rtd).
The timing of the compensation also coincided with the allocation of 95,000 slots to Nigeria by Saudi authorities as the country’s quota for the 2020 pilgrimage.
The six Nigerians were among the many people that died when a thunderstorm brought down a crane during the expansion of the Grand Mosque. The victims were from Gombe, Kaduna and Katsina states.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia had pledged to pay the compensation to the victims of the crash.
The Head, Public Affairs, NAHCON, Fatima Sanda Usara, said in a statement that the compensations for five of the deceased and two seriously injured pilgrims, were released to the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh, which had forwarded same for handing over to the families of the victims.
She said the commission would coordinate payment of the compensation in accordance with provisions of the law.
The Saudi authorities and the federal government have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Jeddah where 95,000 slots were approved as Nigeria’s quota for the 2020 hajj.
Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, signed on behalf of Nigeria, while the Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Saleh Bn Taher Benten, signed the MoU on behalf of the kingdom.
Incidentally, it was the same quota approved for Nigeria for the 2019 hajj.
The MoU placed emphasis on e-track registration guideline and portal through which hajj payment is to be made.
It also specified what Nigerian pilgrims could pay as insurance cover for any accidents, loss of property and other risks they may face while on Hajj.
The Saudis also assured the federal government on construction of additional 60,000 toilet facilities in Mina to ease the problem experienced by pilgrims in the Masha’ir during the last pilgrimage.