Dead man not Nigerian pilgrim, says mukhtar

Abdullahi Mohammad Mukhtar

Abdullahi Mohammad Mukhtar

Investigations have begun into the circumstances leading to the discovery of a dead body suspected to be a stowaway in a Saudi Arabian airliner, Flynas, which conveyed some Nigerian pilgrims into Abuja last Tuesday, September 20.

The body of an unidentified person was discovered on Wednesday, September 21, during a routine check on the airline, which had arrived from Abuja, after conveying about 473 pilgrims from Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Speaking to correspondents at the King Abdulaziz International Airport at Jeddah, the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Mohammad Mukhtar, however, said the dead person was not part of the Nigerian pilgrims for this year’s hajj, even as he confirmed that the incident had not in any way disrupted the conveyance of Nigerian pilgrims back home.

The Saudi Gazette, one of the Saudi English newspapers, had reported that the discovery was made while airline workers were conducting a routine check on the aircraft and found the body in the wheels well of the plane.

The general belief is that the body was a stowaway, who tried to enter Saudi Arabia by sneaking into the aircraft wheels.According to Mukhtar: “On September 20, a flight that had returned from Abuja after conveying 472 pilgrims landed here in Jeddah and in the process of a routine check by the crew of the airline, they found a dead body at the right sidekick the air engine of the aircraft. 

“The identity of the dead body is yet unknown, but the authority here (in Saudi Arabia) and our authority back home in Nigeria are investigating the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident. 

“But one thing that is very clear is that the dead body is not a pilgrim from FCT or any of the states, because the 472 that pilgrims that conveyed on that flight all left the airport happily and safely.

“But the investigation is ongoing and one interesting thing is that we did not allow that incident to disrupt the remaining part of the operation.” He added that though the incident caused a slight delay when the aircraft landed at the airport, stressing that the aircraft later took off for its destination.

He assured that once investigations were concluded, the outcome would be made public. It would be recalled that Nigerian pilgrims begun their return journey on Saturday, September 17, barely three days after they successfully completed this year’s hajj on Wednesday, September 14.

According to the NAHCON boss, the exercise, which entered its sixth day yesterday, is expected to be completed early next month. So far, he said about 29 flights had been recorded, involving about 14,000 pilgrims from the various parts of the country.

“It is our desire and hope that with the cooperation of the pilgrims with the state officials, we should be able to finish this operation before the targeted deadline of October 17,” he stated.



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