By Mumini AbdulKareem
Following the announcement of the sighting of the moon of Dhul-Hijja on Sunday by the Saudi Arabian authorities, Arafah, which is the ninth day of the month will come up next Monday.
With this development, Muslim faithful throughout the globe are already looking forward to celebrate the Eid-el-Kabir festival, next Tuesday.
The month of Dhul-Hijja is the 12th month in the Islamic lunar calendar and one of the sacred months in Islam that is synonymous with the holy pilgrimage.
It is also synonymous with the slaughtering of ram in commemoration of the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim who was tested by Allah to kill his son.
Unlike the Eid-el-Fitri festival, the EId-el-Kabir celebration is tied to hajj rites and the whole Muslim world look up to Saudi Arabia for the declaration of the ceremony.
Its first 10 days are highly revered and Muslims are enjoined to engage in various meritorious deeds during the period.
…Nigerian pilgrims ripped off over gold teeth, as one recovers lost $700 BTA in Saudi hotel
Unidentified expatriates while attempting to fix gold and silver teeth for them during hajj have defrauded Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia of thousands of Saudi Riyal.
Although not part of the hajj obligations, fixing of artificial gold or silver teeth, which has been a fad among most Nigerian pilgrims since time immemorial, symbolises their visit to Saudi Arabia.
Besides, many of the pilgrims, mostly females who were not properly guided, also lost their Basic Traveling Allowances (BTA) to the same set of fraudsters, who unsuspectingly appeared to be assisting them to convert their dollar equivalents to Saudi currency.
About more than 20,000 pilgrims of the total 55,000 expected to participate in the 2018 hajj are already in the holy land for the spiritual exercise. Confirming the ugly trend to journalists in Medina, leader of Kebbi State pilgrims, Alhaji Abubakar Argungu, said the illegal moneychangers deceived the pilgrims, especially the elderly people and dispossessed them of their BTAs.
According to Abubakar: “Our major concern this year is that some illegal residents in Saudi have been cheating and stealing our pilgrims’ money. Eight of our pilgrims were defrauded of their BTAs in less than two weeks.” He appealed to state governments to always appoint credible officials with the fear of God to take care of pilgrims’ welfare. Similarly, the Coordinator of FCT Pilgrims in Madinah, Alhaji Musa Yahya Abubakar, also lamented what he described as unwholesome behaviour of dupes, who he said appear to be more crude and aggressive than previous years “such that in some instance, they use brutal force to seize pilgrims’ BTA.
Alhaji Musa also decried the way and manner some Pilgrims become so obsessed with gold or silver teeth, which he said unnecessarily exposed them to the fraudsters. Musa accused those he referred as “Tukari,” expatriates including Nigerian students in Saudi, illegal residents and the non-Saudi Arabs of being involved in the fraudulent activities.
“We noticed that some Arabs and illegal residents in Saudi Arabia indulge in it. Apart from those two mentioned groups, some Nigerian students studying in the holy land, because they claim some percentage on each Pilgrim, they were also able to hoodwink pilgrims into the gold or silver teeth fixing business,” Musa revealed. Reacting to the development, the Head of Civic Orientation, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Umar Bala, told journalists in Medina that NAHCON received series of complaints about the activities of fraudsters duping unsuspected pilgrims from Nigeria. He, therefore, cautioned state boards to appropriately guide their state contingents.
His words: “Reports reaching us in Medina shows that there are some unscrupulous elements who dupe pilgrims in the name of assisting them convert their BTA to Saudi currency, Riyal. In fact, Hajiya Maryam Yahya Sani of Ummulkair Foundation complained about this development last week. “I can confirm to you that NAHCON officials in Medina have been going from house to house to educate, sensitise and enlighten pilgrims arriving on a daily basis on how to go about their civic responsibilities, but we would advise that states, too, should do their bit.”
Meanwhile, a leader of Nigerian students in Medina, Ustaz Shu’aib Salihu Zaria, has disassociated Nigerians studying in Medina from the nefarious act. He said students are officially engaged to guide pilgrims in Medina and the union would not condone anyone of them found to be involved in such ungodly act.
In a related development, a lucky second Nigerian pilgrim Hassana Aliyu yesterday, in Madinah, Saudi Arabia, recovered her lost Basic Traveling Allowance (BTA) from her hotel camp.,
Hassana, from Gezawa Local Government Area of Kano State, was accommodated at Al-Andalus Al-Masi Hotel in the heart of Madinah.
She had reported losing 700 dollars BTA which was found by a hotel worker who promptly handed it over to the management.
No sooner had the cash been found that the management alerted NAHCON officials.
Head of Civic Enlightenment of NAHCON, Umar Bala, while handing over the cash to Mrs Aliyu, cautioned pilgrims against careless handling of their money and valuables.
Responding, Mrs Aliyu commended the hotel management, staff and NAHCON officials for their honesty in dealing with visitors.
It was also reported that a pilgrim from Nasarawa State, Nuhu Musa, had similarly recovered his lost 600 dollars from the same hotel.
Meanwhile, NAHCON says it has transported 26,697 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, with the arrival of additional 177 pilgrims from Oyo and Ogun states on Sunday.
The pilgrims came in 65 flights operated by accredited airliners comprising Max Air, Flynass and Medview.
The Oyo State pilgrims comprised 99 males and 72 females.