The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has released compensation to be paid to the families of the Nigerian victims of the 2015 Hajj crawler crane accident, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has disclosed.
The spokesperson of the Hajj Commission, Fatima Usara, said Nigeria’s envoy to Saudi Arabia, Muhammad Dodo, disclosed the development during a meeting with the officials of the commission in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Six Nigerians died in the accident, which happened on September 11, 2015, as a crawler crane toppled over onto the Masjid al-Haram, the grand mosque in Mecca. Over a hundred more people from other countries were killed and 394 injured.
However, in Ms Usara’s statement, the compensation said to have been released to Nigeria was for the families of five deceased victims. The statement added two injured persons are also to benefit from the compensation.
“The compensations for five among the deceased and two seriously injured pilgrims were released to the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh which has forwarded same for handing over to the families of the victims,” said Ms Usara.
“The commission will coordinate payment of the compensation in accordance with provisions of the law.”
The statement did not state the actual amount released and the names of the officials as well as why one person was left out.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Saudi monarch, Salman Al-Saud, had reportedly ordered that one million Saudi Riyal be distributed as compensation to the families of the deceased victims, another one million Riyal to be paid to the victims with permanent disability, and 500 thousand Riyal for victims without lasting injuries.
The non-disclosure of the actual amount that was released to Nigeria raises concern about the transparent management of the money.
In 2017, Nigeria was plunged into an international embarrassment after officials diverted the tonnes of dates donated by Saudi Arabia to Nigeria for free distribution to persons displaced by Boko Haram insurgency.
Then, the Nigerian Commission for refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, then headed by Sadiya Farouk, was responsible for the distribution as well as the diversion of the dates. Ms Farouk is now Nigeria’s minister for humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development.
In the 2015 Hajj accident, the six pilgrims Nigeria lost were from Gombe, Kaduna and Katsina states.