BREAKING: Lagos Assembly investigating Pilgrims Welfare Board for corruption

corruption in Nigeria

Following MEDIA reports OF CORRUPT PRACTICES, the Lagos State House of Assembly on Thursday initiated a probe into AN ALLEGED N46 million fraud.

The Lagos State House of Assembly has begun an investigation into the N46 million the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board allegedly stole from 2022 Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, after SaharaReporters’ investigation.

The news outlet reported in July that the Lagos State Commissioner and top government officials defrauded Hajj pilgrims of N47 million in Saudi Arabia. It also reported that some Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia accused top officials of the Lagos State Government of forcing them to pay a higher amount for animal sacrifices called Hadaya.

The pilgrims were expected to pay for an animal sacrifice.

However, 555 Saudi Riyals were collected from each of the 1,672 pilgrims for rams but the board employed the service of a Saudi Arabian collaborator who was given 300 Saudi Riyals, leaving a huge sum of N46 million.

The incident was exposed by SaharaReporters based on complaints by disgruntled pilgrims, leading to near protests and a subsequent press conference by the State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Hanafiu Elegushi.

Media reports claimed that in a bid to democratise the extortion, the Lagos Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board shared the extorted sum among its members.

Following SaharaReporters’ reports, the Lagos State House of Assembly, on Thursday, initiated a probe into the N46 million fraud allegations.

A source conversant with the probe told SaharaReporters on Sunday that after its report that exposed the atrocities of the board chairman, Mofesaye in connivance with others, the House has woken up to investigate all the government allocations to the Pilgrim’s Board.

According to the source, the current Board, its Chairman, Commissioner and Special Adviser have all committed unspeakable atrocities against pilgrims and state resources.

The insider source confirmed that the House of Assembly members, especially the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee and the Speaker have personally taken interest in the Board, following the report done by SaharaReporters. 

“The parliamentarians realised that several statutory allocations of slots to senior citizens, senior political office holders and even the parliament were guillotined by the Board under the puppet Executive Secretary.

“The Chairman of the House Committee, Honourable Layode summoned the Permanent Secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry and the two Secretaries of the Muslim and Christian Welfare Boards. 

“During an interaction with the House Committee, it was revealed that even allocations to the Assembly were diverted by the Special Adviser to the Governor, Alhaji Sidi Jebe,” the source disclosed. 

The source quoted Layode, who was surprised by the revelations while addressing the Permanent Secretary to have said, “It is laughable to think that we are talking without fact. The Ministry should have invited law enforcement to come look at their books on how they have violated financial laws from consultant who doesn’t have the capacity of the State’s Board and receives hundreds of millions of Naira in consultancy without proper approval by the procurement agency of the state and no money has ever been paid by this company in question as tax to the state.” 

The source said that a company called the Crescent had acted as a front for the Commissioner and Special Adviser in the laundering of funds diverted from the state and pilgrims’ entitlements.

Another source told SaharaReporters that during last Thursday’s private meeting with the Board Chairman and others at the Assembly, Layode said, “We are also aware of how one individual has always been the beneficiary of every contract in the board claiming it was for the Governor or the First Lady or Deputy Governor. 

“He was even, according to records at our disposal, the highest beneficiary of government sponsorship of Hajj 2022 by putting about 20 members of his immediate family including his son-in-law, 11 of his siblings and cousins claiming that it was the governor who approved them while denying every other person entitled to the allocation.”

Meanwhile, a new date (not publicized at the moment) has reportedly been fixed for the entire members of the Board, the Commissioner, the Special adviser and the Permanent Secretary to appear before the Home Affairs and Public Accounts Committees of the Assembly and answer to queries pending before the Assembly.