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Nine abducted ABU students regain freedom

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Nine students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria kidnapped last Sunday have regained their freedom.

The students were going to Lagos for an immersion programme at the Nigerian French Language Village in Badagry when they came under attack by kidnappers along the Kaduna-Abuja road.

Kaduna State Government confirmed two persons died during the incident and nine others rescued by security personnel.

Director of Public Affairs at the ABU, Malam Auwal Umar, confirmed the release of the students on Sunday.

He said, “I can confirm to you that the students have been released. They were released yesterday (Saturday) night and most of them have already been reunited with their families.”

The students were reportedly released midnight Saturday after the parents had paid between N500,000 and N4 million as ransom.

One of the parents, who confirmed the release of his daughter, said, “After series of bargaining, they said I should pay N1 million, but I told them that I could not afford to raise that amount. I told them I have over N500,000 and they asked me to bring it.

“I sold my goats, pigs and other belongings to pay the money.”

Another parent said she among the team of four parents that went to deliver the ransom to the bandits, adding that they were directed to come to Abuja Junction.

The parent said, “They called me yesterday (Saturday), and said if I am not able to pay N1 million, they would kill the girls or marry them or use them as sex slave.

“On arriving in Kaduna, we were told that security personnel were monitoring the bandits in the bush. But surprisingly, the bandits called us and told us to come and wait at Abuja junction.

“They sent us a telephone number to call. We called the number and the person came to take us to a car. Unknown to me, the owner of the car is also a victim. His daughter was among those abducted. We drove along the Kaduna-Abuja road. That was around 11pm to deliver the ransom and other things they demanded.”

He said the bandits also demanded some crates of Malta drink and cartons of milk from each parent.

“When we got to Dutse, we stopped at a junction leading to the bush. We met soldiers there and they stopped us and made the four of us in the vehicle to sit on the ground.

“The soldiers noticed that all of us were carrying nylon bags and the items and they asked what was in the nylon bags.

“We told them that we were carrying money to go and pay ransom for the students that were kidnapped. The soldiers wished us safe journey to the bush and we parked the car at the junction.

“We trekked far inside the bush from Dutse and handed over the money to them and they released the girls to us. He said the owner of the car is one of the parents given directives by the bandits.

“The bandits are very clever. They planned everything very well. We came back and picked the vehicle where we parked by the main road and returned with the girls to Kaduna around 1am.

“Some parents paid N1 million; some paid over N1 million; some paid N2 million; some paid over N500,000, depending on how each parent bargained with the hoodlums because they spoke separately with the parents.”

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Sallah: Look out for new moon, Sultan tells Muslims

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Sultan of Sokoto and President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has directed the Muslim Ummah to look out for the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah as from Wednesday.

The Sultan made the call in a statement signed by Prof. Sambo Junaidu, Chairman, advisory committee on Religious Affairs, Sultanate Council, Sokoto.

“This is to inform the Muslim Ummah that Wednesday, June 29, which is equivalent to 29th of Dhul-Qidah 1443AH, shall be the day to look out for the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah 1443AH.”

“Muslims are therefore requested to start looking for the new moon on Wednesday and report its sighting to the nearest district or village head for onward communication to the Sultan,” the statement read.

He also prayed to Allah to assist the Muslim Ummah in discharging their religious duties.

Dhul-Hijjah is the 12th and the last month in the Islamic calendar where the Holy Pilgrimage (Hajj) takes place as well as the Eid Kabir – festival of sacrifice.

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Saudi rejects pilgrims older than 65, Nigeria’s additional 5,000 slots

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Intending pilgrims that are above 65 years will not perform this year’s hajj, the Saudi Arabian authorities have declared.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, communicated this directive along with its request for 5,000 additional hajj slots also turned down by the Saudi.

The commision said that its request to waive officials, who are above 65 years was rejected, giving no specific reasons.

NAHCON in a statement said despite the high powered delegation led by the Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, after an official request made before now to actualize the offer, it was turned down.

The statement read in part, “The visit became especially important to lessen Private Tour Operators’ genuine outcry over shortfall in number of clients they would be able to accommodate for the Hajj.

“It was also targeted at managing pressure of other Nigerians desperate to be participants in the season’s pilgrimage.

“Hence, NAHCON’s formidable team of representatives as well as the strong presentation made by our Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, unfortunately, the promise could no longer be fulfilled.

“Therefore, Nigeria’s Hajj industry is left with its initial allocation of 43,008.

“In view of this, NAHCON wishes to solicit the understanding of those aggrieved due to the failure to be counted among this year’s successful Haji applicants.

“NAHCON beseeches them to accept it as the will of the Almighty and look forward to next opportunity if God spares our lives.

“The Commission has done its best but the Almighty has decided the rest.

“Indeed, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the NAHCON Chairman and other NAHCON management members, did their best to make sure that slots were distributed equitably.

“It was, however, clear right from the start that not everyone who is qualified would make it to this year’s Hajj due to the relative low number of allocated slots.

“The commission is aware of the agitation from all its publics, to wit, the States Pilgrims Welfare Boards, subscribes through the Hajj Savings Scheme, Private Tour Operators, including its own staff as well.

“NAHCON management is consoled because it did not ostracize any group in the distribution of available Hajj seats, but of course, not all would be successful, because, the Commission was working within the boundaries of what was available.

“Yet, management understands the frustration of many who were desperate to participate in this year’s pilgrimage after two years of blockade.

“As people of faith we should remember that Hajj is a divine call that one would answer at the destined time; no matter one’s wealth, health status, age or free time.

“NAHCON assures those unable to proceed for the Hajj that their Hajj fare deposits are untouched and safe.

“Thus, the Commission will order release of their monies to them without delay should they request for a refund.

“If they decide otherwise, they should be rest assured that they will not be short changed in anyway.

“Similarly, NAHCON had sought for waiver for Hajj officials above 65 years of age, who due to their relevance to the Hajj operation, their presence in Saudi Arabia is crucial.

“This request too was turned down by Saudi Arabia. Hence, any official above 65 years is exempted from participating in the 2022 Hajj duties.

“While soliciting for the understanding of all concerned and indeed the general public, the Commission sincerely regrets all the inconveniences as well as all such obvious/likely losses associated with the incidences highlighted above.”

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Intending pilgrims protest in Kano over exclusion from hajj

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Many intending pilgrims on Tuesday in Kano protested over their exclusion from the list of those to perform this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia despite making full payments for the hajj.

The protesters stormed the head office of Jaiz Bank, the financial institution that processed their payment through a savings scheme, and the office of the Kano State Pilgrims Board.

The affected persons, numbering 284, said they were shocked to find out that after making payment, no seat was reserved for them, noting that some of them started the saving scheme since 2019.

Daily Trust reported that the first batch of the 400 intending pilgrims from Kano State had been airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 hajj exercise on Monday.

One of the affected intending pilgrims, Auwalu Jibrin, said, “We are the ones the National Hajj Commission asked to open an account with Jaiz Bank and deposit our money there. The state pilgrim board has collected our passport and screened us and now we learnt that we have no allocation.

“We are now left stranded without any assurance. Jaiz Bank has told us that of course there’s a problem and they are working towards ratifying the problem.”

Sources familiar with the development told Daily Trust that names of the aggrieved intending pilgrims had been sent to the state pilgrim board and documented but were not included in this year’s hajj because of the reduced allocation.

The state pilgrim board is said to be constrained by over 100 names sent from NAHCON to be given allocation while many who saved for years under the hajj scheme could not be accommodated.

Executive Secretary of Kano Pilgrims Board, Abba Dambatta, told Daily Trust that the board was doing its best to resolve the problem, noting that there was no allocation this year for those on savings’ scheme, especially those from Jaiz Bank.

He however said he was going to Abuja to make efforts in securing allocation for the 284 intending pilgrims.

 

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