The immediate past executive secretary, Plateau Muslim Pilgrims Board, Salisu Mohammed, has owned up to diverting N94 million from funds paid by intending pilgrims.
Mr. Mohammed made the confession on Tuesday in Jos, while testifying before a Judicial Commission of Inquiry setup by the Plateau government to probe activities of former Governor Jonah Jang’s administration.
He told the commission that the money was diverted into sponsoring himself and some politicians on pilgrimage.
“The funds were diverted from no fewer than 131 intending pilgrims, who paid for slots to travel to Saudi Arabia for the 2013 Hajj,” he said.
According to him, “they were disqualified from participating in the pilgrimage because I was instructed, verbally, by the then Secretary to State Government (SSG), Prof. Shedrach Best, to do so and use the money to sponsor some political VIPs,” he said.
“The VIPs and I sponsored ourselves, with the fund collected from the pilgrims, to attend the World Islamic Conference in the United Kingdom and to the Hajj itself,” he further explained.
Mohammed, however, revealed that the payees had neither gone on the pilgrimage nor had their monies refunded to them.
He said he wrote to the then governor, Jonah Jang, asking for the remittance of the money and got an approval; but that the money was not released up till the time Mr. Jang left office in 2015.
The chairman of the commission, Stephen Adah, who was visibly miffed, expressed bitterness over the development and wondered why the former official got involved in such an “unholy” action.
He frowned at the act of depriving persons from performing spiritual rites for some selfish reasons, “after they had paid the fees”.
Mr. Adah promised that the commission would look into the matter and force those responsible to refund the monies to the owners.