By Our Correspondent
The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a civil society orgainsation that reports Hajj activities, has commended policies adopted by Katsina and Kano States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards for the payment of refunds for Hajj 2020/2021 to intending pilgrims.
The commendation is contained in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Malam Ibrahim Muhammed, today in Abuja.
The group declared that: “IHR is particularly impressed by the display of open transparency in paying back the intending pilgrims of Hajj 2020/21 by Katsina and Kano States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards.”
It would be recalled that Hajj Reporters had earlier requested for information from some selected states to provide details of Hajj refunds for 2020 and 2021 as part of its efforts to encourage transparency in the management of pilgrim’s funds and to support the present administration’s open policy on public finance.
“It is noteworthy that Katsina and Kano States were not in the first batch of states where FoI letter was sent to, yet the leadership of the both boards promptly released details of Hajj 2020 and Hajj 2021 refund exercise to the general public,” it noted.
“Katsina state pilgrims board adopted pre-verification method by pasting names of pilgrims and amount they paid in each zonal office prior to effect the refunds – a measure meant to discourage shortage of payment, while Kano state constituted refund monitoring committee that comprised security agencies, media and representatives of the state government.
“Secondly, the Executive Director of Katsina State Pilgrims Welfare, Alhaji Suleiman Nuhu Kuki, had on 20th of August released details of its refunds to the general public through a press conference.
“Therefore, Katsina State Muslim Pilgrims Board demonstrated openness for highlighting the number of registered pilgrims for Hajj 2020 and Hajj 2021, gave details of amount refunded to pilgrims in three batches, numbers of pilgrims that were refunded, and established different committees to oversee the refunds and submitted separate reports as per each batch,” the statement read in part.
IHR noted that such open policy of transparency and accountability will provide the needed trust and confidence in Hajj administration by prospective pilgrims who may wish to roll over their funds to Hajj 2022.
The group was particularly excited with the details of the refunds made by the Executive Director of Katsina state pilgrims’ board, Nuhu Kuki, noting that the refund exercise was carried out in three batches.
It said Nuhu Kuki said the board refunded the sum of N407,834,977 to 331 intending pilgrims in the first batch, with N176 million released to 134 intending pilgrims in the second batch, while a total sum of N77,330 million paid to 63 intending pilgrims in the third batch.
“Giving further breakdown, the executive scribe said the board registered about 2,721 intending pilgrims for both 2020/2021 Hajj exercise, out of which 508 intending pilgrims made a request for refund, totaling about N661 million.
“Again, the Kano state Muslim Pilgrims Board began payment of refunds immediately Hajj 2021 was cancelled and periodically gave updates on numbers of pilgrims that applied for refund, numbers of those refunded, amounts and exact number of pilgrims that rolled over their deposits. Such displays of transparency deserve our commendation,” the statement added.