Emir Lamido Sanusi Urges Saudi Authorities Not To Blame African Pilgrims For The Stampede Tragedy-The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Tuesday claimed that the number of Nigerian pilgrims that lost their lives in the Sept. 24 stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia, had risen to 168.
Another tragedy some days earlier had claimed the lives of six Nigerians when a crane fell on the eastward surrounding building claiming the lives of six Nigerians.
In the stampede that occurred on September 24, almost 800 others from across the world were confirmed dead with about 1,000 others sustaining various degrees of injuries during the stampede which occurred in the close-by adjourning building close to the roads leading to the Jamarat Complex, the spiritual stone throwing site in Mina. The tragedy had been partly blamed on some African pilgrims action on the site of the tragedy.
Reacting recently, the Emir of Kano and head of Nigeria’s 2015 Hajj delegation, Muhammad Sanusi II, Emir Sanusi denied the claims that black pilgrims, particularly Nigerians, were responsible for the Mina stampede as claimed by a Saudi Arabia officials.
Emir Sanusi said Nigeria does not have any issue with the Saudi Arabian authorities, but that they must understand that no human being is superior to another in the sight of God, except those who fear God most, denoting the blame game was uncalled for being against the spirit of Muslim brotherhood.
His comments followed the death of almost 800 pilgrims, in September, as over 2 million people made an attempt to “stone the devil”.
He said he would no more support the idea of devil stoning during Hajj performance claiming he would recommend Nigerians to stop participating in the Jamarat (symbolic stoning of the devil) rites.
According to him, his current position may change if Nigerian pilgrims are given decent accommodation close to the site of the stoning.
He said the stoning of the devil was not worth the blood of any Muslim.
Emir Sanusi, who quoted several verses from the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, said refusal to even perform the stoning of devil rituals does not in any way invalidate the benefits of Hajj performance.
“During the era of Prophet Muhammad, he permitted pilgrims who came on camels to stay in Makkah after Arafat, instead of staying in Mina and sleeping at Muzdalifa. So, if the Prophet can give such grace to some people, just to protect their animals, why didn’t our scholars educate our people properly to avoid this untoward hardship and death,” he said.
“Therefore, it will be part of my recommendation to the Federal government that, if we cannot get accommodation close to Jamarat where the Arabs reside in Mina, then this year may be the last time we will sleep in Mina and Muzdalifa because we want to stone the devil.
“Besides that, if one deliberately refuses to even perform the stoning of the devil rituals, all he needs to do is just to slaughter a ram. So, if this is the situation, why do we go and suffer and die instead of sacrificing a ram.
“As it is presently, sleeping in Mina and Muzdalifa is not backed by any Hadith (sayings/deeds of Prophet Muhammad) or verse of the Qur’an. So, why do we continue to do it?” he questioned.
Uba Mana, the Director, Public Affairs of the commission, confirmed while speaking to the Media during the week that the number of Nigerians who died in the stampede incident went up following ongoing analysis on the corpses by the Saudi Government. He said that the number of pilgrims earlier declared missing had reduced from 165 to 144 due to the discovery of additional bodies.
Mana said that seven out of the 42 pilgrims injured during the stampede were still on admission in Saudi hospitals.
He summed up that 47,128 pilgrims were transported back to their respective states in 123 flight on the ongoing airlift of pilgrims back to Nigeria.