President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the authorities of Saudi Arabia to come out with the outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna in 2015 during which 274 Nigerians were believed to have died.
Buhari has also made a case for compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba.
According to a statement on Saturday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President raised the issues during the talks he had with Saudi rulers during his one-week official visit to the country.
Shehu said following the completion of talks with rulers of the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, Buhari directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Hajj Commission to sit down with the Saudis to negotiate improved terms and conditions for Nigerian pilgrims performing the Umrah and the annual Hajj.
This, he said, followed the acceptance by the Saudi government to freely and openly discuss outstanding issues with Nigeria.
“President Buhari, among other things, requested the Saudis to conclude all issues with the Nigerian Hajj Commission, such as the undetermined outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna last year, where our officials believe that 274 Nigerian lives were lost.
“There is also the case of compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba and 35 others from the stampede whose DNA profile is feared to be missing.
“President Buhari equally charged the Ministry and the NAHCON to seek a reduction of fees associated with the Umrah Visa,” he said.
Among the 17 issues tendered at the initial meeting between the officials of both countries, Shehu said Nigeria appreciated the increase offered for Umrah pilgrimage but asked that the 76,000 seats maintained for the Hajj be also increased.
The meeting was said to have been led by Nigeria’s Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Fatima Abba Ibrahim and Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammed on the Nigerian side while the Saudi side was led by their Minister of Hajj Affairs, Dr.Bandar bin Muhammad al-Hajjar.
The two countries are expected to follow up on all the issues in the coming weeks.