The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has officially confirmed and announced the death of six Nigerian pilgrims during the just concluded 2022 Hajj in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Chief of Operations, National Medical Team for the 2022 Hajj operations, Dr. Usman Shu’aibu Galadima stated this in an exclusive interview with Muslim News on Wednesday, adding that those with pre-existing co-morbid medical conditions should be evaluated for fitness to perform hajj.
Hajj, the fifth and last pillar of Islam is mandatory for adult Muslim males and females who are financially, psychologically and physically fit.
The names of the deceased are Hajiya Aisha Ahmed (Nasarawa): Hasiya Aminu (Kaduna); Lamidi Atanda (Borno); Sheikh Abdulrahman Maigona (Gombe); Alhaji Abdulhadi Adam (Plateau); and Alhaji Mamman Nasiru Zungeru (Niger).
Narrating how the six pilgrims died in Makkah, Mina and Haram within the space of three weeks, Dr Galadima recounts, “The first victim, a pilgrim from Nasarawa State died in Makkah on June 29. She was sick and taken to a Saudi hospital where she passed on.
“The second deceased pilgrim from Zaria in Kaduna State, died in her tent in Arafat. We were told she had gone to Jabal Ar-Rahman (Mount of Mercy) and came back, and even participated in sharing food with other pilgrims. When it was time to pray, she just slumped and died.
“The third late pilgrim, a male from Borno State also died in his tent in Mina while the fourth person from Gombe State died in our facility.
“Besides, the fifth pilgrim, a male from Plateau State died in Haram after circumambulation. He slumped and was immediately taken to a Saudi hospital within the Haram, where, unfortunately, he also passed on. The last person, from Niger, died on Wednesday, July 27,” he noted.
14 Nigerian Pilgrims Died In 2019
Dr. Galadima explained that though their deaths were painful, the figure is below the number of deaths recorded in the 2019 Hajj, where no fewer than 14 Nigerian pilgrims died.
According to him, “At this time in 2019, we had lost about 14 pilgrims. Though painful, we thank God that we have so far not recorded higher number of deaths compared to similar period during the 2019 hajj. May Allah forgive all of their shortcomings and admit them to Al-Jannah Firdaus. Ameen”.
He attributed the low casualty rate recorded this year compared to 2019 to the restriction placed on pilgrim’s age by the Saudi authorities advising anyone older than 65 years against coming for the Hajj
“There was a limit as anyone older than 65 years of age was advised not to bother to come for Hajj. Though it wasn’t fully complied with, it also explains the reason for the reduction in the number of deaths.
Why Burial In Makkah
Dr. Galadima, who cleared the air on why the corpses of the deceased pilgrims were not freighted to their families in Nigeria, disclosed that some pilgrims prayed to die during the pilgrimage, adding that most Muslims consider burial in the Holy Land as the most preferable.
“Of course, it’s usually in consultation with their families and most families prefer that the remains of their deceased be laid to rest here (Holy Land),” he added.
Loss Of Pilgrims During Hajj Operations
The Chief Operations, NAHCON medical team, who regretted the loss of pilgrims irrespective of the number of casualties during Hajj, however, added that the Commission organised pre-Hajj screening exercises to ensure that only physically, mentally and emotionally fit Nigerian Muslims made it to the 2022 Hajj.
According to him, “Every death is unfortunate, even though every soul shall taste death. That is why we tried and conducted the pre-Hajj medical screening because the Hajj exercise is very rigorous. It is physically challenging, just as it is equally psychologically exhausting.
“In that case, it is advisable and preferable that those who are encouraged to embark on Hajj are physically fit and able.
“However, most people will still want to come for Hajj whether in a wheelchair or whatever challenge they are going through. Once they are confronted with difficulties here, their health deteriorates. Their health will not be able to withstand the rigorous nature of the exercises and whatever their predicaments, tend to manifest once they get here.
Dr. Galadima, therefore, called for a pre-Hajj screening exercise where the pre-existing medical condition of pilgrims will be examined, saying, doing that may prevent death during Hajj.
“To prevent this in the nearest future is to institute very firm pre-hajj screening and those that cannot come should be advised not to come or should be prevented from coming to Hajj to prevent cases of deaths” he concluded.
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