Stakeholders in the Hajj industry have been call upon to redouble their effort towards eradicating criminality, particularly drug trafficking during the Hajj and Umrah exercise.
The Chairman/CEO of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), Barr. Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, MON, FCIA, made the call when he hosted the Director-General of of National Orientation Agency (NOA), in his office in Abuja.
He stated that there was need to adopt a Strategic Action Plan to tackle the increasing incidence of illicit drug trafficking to the Holy Land by criminal minded persons noting that it was becoming both a religious and national embarrassment.
“Over the last few years, there have been arrest and imprisonment of some Nigerian pilgrims over allegation of illicit drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia. At some point, the number reduced due to some measures taken, but there seemed to be a renew increase as evidenced in the 2016 Hajj exercise. “Our desire is to have zero drug free report in 2017 and in subsequent Hajj operations”, he was quoted to have said.
The Chairman while lauding the role of stakeholders in curbing the activities of these bad eggs however, he said there was room for improvement especially in the area of extra collaborative measure by the tripartite team of National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and NAHCON.
In his response, the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, lamented that the traffickers not only endanger their lives but also cause monumental embarrassment to the nation.
He disclosed that the agency had developed plan to initiate a strategic structured advocacy approach that would involve sensitization and enlightenment of pilgrims at the grassroots on the danger of involvement in illicit drug trafficking.
According to him, the Agency is ready to collaborate with NAHCON and the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, Agencies/Commissions to develop the script for Community enlightenment and sensitization campaign to address the issue of drug trafficking in the country.
Meanwhile, the two organizations have constituted a 9-member committee to come up with an Action Plan towards the 2017 Hajj exercise.
HEAD OF MEDIA.