FOI: CSO demands Hajj refund details from  State Pilgrims Boards

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The publishers of Hajj Reporters have demanded details of hajj refunds made by states Pilgrims Boards on the cancelled 2020 and 2021 hajj exercise.

The group made the demand under the Freedom of Information, FOI act, stating that it had written to the concerned states Pilgrims board to release the information.

In a statement signed and issued on Monday by the National Coordinator of Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), Ibrahim Muhammad, the group stated:  “In line with the requirements for the fulfillment of Freedom of Information Bill, Hajj Reporters Media Ltd, the Publishers of Hajj Reporters has sent reminder letter to the first set of States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards to provide details of Hajj 2020/2021 refunds. The organisation had earlier written the affected agencies requesting for detailed information.

Read Also: http://This is contained in a statement signed and issued on Monday by the National Coordinator of Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), Ibrahim Muhammad.

A copy of the letter, dated 11th August 2021, read in part: “In reference to our letter dated 30th June 2021, and in line with the provisions of Sections 1&2 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011, we write to REMIND you of our request for the following information in respect of intending pilgrims for Hajj 2020 and 2021, which had been cancelled for foreign pilgrims due to COVID-19 pandemic:

“The total number of registered pilgrims for Hajj 2020 and Hajj 2021 in your State;
“The total number of Hajj 2020 pilgrims that were refunded and the total number of pilgrims that rolled over their Hajj deposit to Hajj 2021;
“The total number of pilgrims that registered for Hajj 2021 and amount deposited by each pilgrim;
“Total number of pilgrims that enrolled into the Hajj Saving Scheme through your State Pilgrims Board and the amount paid by each pilgrim.
“The total sum of pilgrims deposit paid to NAHCON as at June 2020;
“Names of Banks where the pilgrims Hajj deposits were deposited by the board, and Interest, if any, generated by the amount deposited in Bank(s).”

The statement recalled that the request for information letter was earlier sent to Kaduna, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Bauchi, Kwara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno, Zamfara, Lagos and Taraba States.

The FOI Act was passed by the National Assembly on 24th May 2011, and assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan on 28th May, 2011.

The underlying objective of Freedom of Information is that public servants are custodians of public trust on behalf of the population who have a right to know what they do.

The FOI Act is enacted to remove the aura of mystery and exclusion with which public office holders cloak the ordinary operations of government and public institutions by changing the manner in which public records and information are managed.

To get information under the FOI, the law stipulates that a request must be made either electronically (e.g. email) or by letter in written form, describing the information sought for, and the preferred format of the response, in as much detail as possible.

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