By Tebego Motalaote
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has confirmed that 274 Nigerian pilgrims died in the Hajj stampede, while 44 are missing and two are still receiving treatment in a Saudi hospital.
Dr. Saleh Okenwa, Commissioner Planning, Research Statistic Information and Library Service (PRSILS) of the commission, told journalists on Monday in Abuja the Saudi Arabian Government should be blamed for the commission’s inability to give accurate account of Nigerian casualties in the 2015 Hajj stampede.
Okenwa expressed the determination of the commission to continue to work with relevant stakeholders to account for the remaining pilgrims that died in the stampede.
“This was a year that the Saudi Arabia government did their best to ensure the success of Hajj exercise and safety of pilgrims, but Allah decreed that this will happen,” Okenwa said.
He said that the Saudi Arabian Government was yet to respond to Nigeria’s request to be part of its committee set up to probe the incident.
“Nigeria requested to be part of the committee investigating the incident, but we are yet to receive response from the Saudi authority,” he said.
The Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed, also said that it was the prerogative of the Saudi Government to decide the composition of the committee investigating the stampede.
He said that Nigeria had yet to receive any compensation pledged by Saudi Arabia for the victims of the September 11 crane crash at the precinct of Ka’aba.