The Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board (Muslim Wing) has refunded N181 million to intending 2021 pilgrims, following the cancellation of this year’s Hajj operations by the Saudi authorities.
Chairman of the Board, Prof. Sayed Hamza Malik, made the disclosure on Friday.
He said the decision to refund the intending pilgrims was reached after a June 22, 2021 meeting between Chief Executive Officers of States’ Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and officials of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), in Abuja.
A statement on behalf of the Board by Prof. Malik noted that, immediately after the Abuja meeting, the Board secured the approval of Governor ‘Seyi Makinde and that by July 7, 2021, it had refunded N121.04 million.
The statement added that as of July 9, 2021, the body had refunded another N60.5million, bringing the total refund to N181.5 million.
The statement debunked an online report credited to Oyovoice247.blogspot.com, which claimed that the Pilgrims Board had refused to refund intending pilgrims following the cancellation of the Hajj operations.
It denied claims that the body was only paying members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The statement read in part: “It is a blatant lie to claim that Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board is being used as an appendage for partisan politics in the state.
“It is important to state that we in the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board have never thought of ethnic or political consideration in our dealings with the pilgrims who register with our Board
“I consider the whole publication as a blatant attempt to gain publicity. This is because nobody has ever contacted me as Chairman of Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board (Muslim Wing) for information on this matter.
“It is pertinent to state at this juncture that the watchword of the present administration in Oyo State under the indefatigable leadership of His Excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, is transparency and accountability.
“The Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board (Muslim Wing) has keyed into this watchword as reflected in the amount of money, which the Board refunded to Oyo State pilgrims before and after the 2019 Hajj operations.
“I wish to advise the journalists who write in both print and electronic media to adhere strictly to follow what Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran Chapter 49 verse 6:
“O you who believe! If a Fasiq (liar-evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterward you become regretful for what you have done.”