The first batch of 424 pilgrims from the Federal Capital Territory contingent to the 2016 Hajj in Saudi Arabia have returned to Abuja. Hajj Pilgrims arriving from Saudi Arabia…
The pilgrims, comprising 201 male and 222 female, were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello on Sunday. Bello, represented by the Acting Secretary of Transportation Secretariat, Alhaji Abdul-Hamid Suleiman, urged the pilgrims to continue to imbibe the good virtues practiced during the Hajj exercise. He enjoined them to continue to pray for the nation and its leadership because the country needs such prayers. The minister commended the pilgrims for being good ambassadors of the Federal Capital Territory and by extension the country at large while at the Holy Land.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 2,975 Muslims from FCT participated in the 2016 Hajj. Some pilgrims who spoke to NAN thanked Allah for giving them the opportunity to perform this year’s Hajj.
– Millions of Muslims performing this year’s pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia successfully completed the stoning of the devil on Monday, one of the rites of the exercise hitch-free. The exercise went on without any incident although there was anxiety among the Saudi authorities and pilgrims. It would be recalled that about 3,000 pilgrims of various nationalities died in a stampede during 2015 pilgrimage at the venue of the event.
At least 317 Nigerians were confirmed to have died in the incident while five others who had not been accounted for, were presumed to have died. To avoid a repeat of the ugly incident, the Saudi authorities introduced stringent measures to guide the conduct of pilgrims during the event. The measures included drawing up timetable which allocated time for pilgrims of each country to perform the rite. Also, all pilgrims were required to return to their respective tents in Muna from Arafat instead of proceeding straight to the stoning site and pilgrims would only be allowed at the venue of the stoning in batches of 250.
The authorities had threatened to sanction any pilgrim and country for breach of any of the rules. However, as early as 2 a.m., thousands of pilgrims proceeded to the venue of the stoning after spending a night at Muzdalifah as required. Contrary to the earlier information, security agents did not block any pilgrim but simply ensured that they carried out the rites in an orderly manner. Pilgrims who had returned to their tents in compliance with the earlier directive, soon joined their colleagues. It was not yet clear why the authorities went back on their earlier directive.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians took advantage of the shortage barbers at the pilgrims’ tents to make brisk business. It is required that each male pilgrim shaves his head after stoning the devil. Many of the barbers, who are also pilgrims, were charging between five and 10 Riyals per pilgrim for the service.
Bleak Sallah awaits many Muslims across the country as the festival is holding a few days to a new academic session.
Findings show that many Muslim parents have opted for low key Sallah celebrations and will prioritise their children’s education and payment of their tuition over merriment and the buying of rams.
Many of the Muslim faithful, who spoke to our correspondents, said they would be celebrating the festival indoors with their families because of paucity of funds and hike in the prices of goods.
One of our correspondents reports that the prices of some food items have increased by over 100 per cent as a bag of rice that was sold last year for N10, 000 now costs N21, 000.
A federal civil servant, Mr. Tunji Adeniran, said he would not buy rams for the festival because doing that would affect the payment of his children’s tuition.
He said, “We have not been paid salary for August and I have no money in reserve. But even if I get paid before Monday, I will use the money to pay for the school fees of my children who will be resuming next week.”
Another resident of Akure, Alhaji Muritala Olabisi, said for the first time as a family man, he would not be buying rams for Sallah celebration.
He said, “I only intend to go to the Eid praying ground on that day and return home to my family.
“It is very unfortunate that we are experiencing a period like this; this has never happened to me before. Life is so tough for the people. The little money I have now cannot be spent on celebration. In few days from now, schools will resume and I have to pay my children’s school fees.”
In Lagos, the story is the same as many Muslims also lamented the effect of the economic situation on their finances.
A ram that cost N50, 000 in the metropolis around Sallah period in 2015 now costs about N80, 000.
A resident businessman, Alhaji Akanni Yusuf, who bought two rams for Sallah in 2015, said he would not be buying any this year.
Yusuf said his priority was paying his children’s tuition, which was over N350,000.
“By this time last year, I had bought two rams at the rate of N45,000 each, clothes for my children and the house had been stuffed with drinks, but I have decided not to buy anything because of the economic situation and my financial obligations.”
“My three daughters will be resuming school a week after Sallah. Their new tuition is N350, 000. This is apart from books and other materials they will need,” he said.
Muslims that are civil servants in Osun State said Sallah would be celebrated in low key due to the financial challenges facing the state and its people.
The Chairman of the Osun State wing of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Mr. Wakeel Amudah, told one of our correspondents in Osogbo that although the state government paid half salary for June, many teachers would not get anything from their salaries because their banks would have deducted all of it to service their loans.
He said, “I have not bought any ram now. I don’t know how it will be done. So I can tell you that the celebrations will be low key in Osun State.
“The half salary for the month of June has been paid but the money is not leaving the banks because many won’t get a dime from it. The banks would have used the entire money to service the loans taken by workers.”
Traders, Mrs. Moriyeba Jamiu and Mrs. Fatima Olootu, said they were not making any preparations for the Sallah, adding that there were more pressing issues to spend money on than the festival.
Against the background of current economic challenges in Nigeria, many Muslim faithful in Katsina State said Sallah celebrations would be low key this year.
Many Muslims, who used to slaughter the symbolic rams during the annual festival, told one of our correspondents that they would not buy rams this year.
It was observed that many ram traders had relocated from the popular ram markets at Mayardua, Mashi, Dankama, Charanchi and Batsari to major streets in Katsina city with a view to getting more patronage.
However, despite their efforts, the ram traders said they were recording low sales.
One of them, Salisu Yesufu, said he sold average of two rams weekly, adding that many people have been complaining about paucity of funds.
A parent, who is a civil servant, Mallam Musa Funtua, said, “We cannot afford to buy any ram because of the situation in the country. But for Muslims, buying rams for Sallah is not compulsory and people should not borrow money to do so.”
When one of our correspondents visited the ram market in North Bank, Makurdi, a ram dealer, Ibrahim Sule, said the customers had been complaining about lack of funds.
He added that after much haggling over the prices of rams; customers would turn around and leave.
Alhaji Adam Musa, a beans seller, said, “Economically, the situation is not encouraging; spending during this period is hard. Last year, the economy was better and you know that schools will be resuming and children will be returning to school. So, even me, I will not buy ram this time but use the money with me to pay my children school fees.’’
Another Muslim, Abba Bello, said a week to Sallah last year, he had bought more than three rams but lamented how he was unable to buy any this time around due to the economic crisis.
Bello, however, appealed to the government to breathe life into the economy.
In Kwara State, many Muslims also expressed concern that the Sallah celebrations would be bleak as a result of financial constraints and high prices of rams and food items like rice, onions, and groundnut oil.
A civil servant in the state, Alhaji Bolaji Ajibade, claimed that this year’s Sallah would be the worst that he would experience.
Another Muslim, Alhaji Muyideen Ishaq, said he had decided to kill two chickens to celebrate Sallah with his family since he could not afford to buy a ram.
He said he would only visit the praying ground and return home to his family on Sallah day.
Also, Alhaja Simbiat Ambali, said she would only cook for her immediate family as against her previous practice of cooking for extended family members and friends since she could not afford such lavish merriment.
She also said she would not take her children to fun centres so as to save some money to buy their school uniforms and pay part of their school fees.
Investigations by our correspondent in Ilorin revealed that small sized rams now sell for between N40,000 and N50,000; medium sized rams go for between N65,000 and N70,000; while big sized rams sell between N120,000 and N140,000 as against last year when small sized rams could be bought at a price between N25,000 and N30,000; medium sized ram (between N35,000 and N40,000); big sized rams (between N50,000 and N60,000).
In view of the harsh economic crisis in the country, Muslims in Delta State said this year’s Sallah would witness a low-key celebration.
As of Friday morning, many Muslims in the state said there was no hope they would cook, let alone kill any ram to mark the event.
Our correspondent, who visited the ram market situated along the Benin/Effurun Expressway and the Effurun market in Uvwie Council Area of the state, observed a significant rise in the prices of goods and food items.
The situation was not different at the Igbodu market in Warri South.
A bag of rice which sold for N12,000 this time in 2015 now goes for N22,000. A gallon of palm oil now sells for N2,000 as against N1,200 six months ago.
A Muslim cleric and a store owner at Igbudu market, Alhaji Musa Sadiq, said, “I know many people with numerous problems. Nigerians only feel the impact of government policies during celebrations. Prices of foodstuff have gone up. The non-payment of workers’ salaries has made things difficult for those of us celebrating.”
Chairman, League of Imams and head of the Muslim community in Delta State, Mustapha Ahmed, also said this year’s Sallah celebrations would be low-key.
Also in Kaduna, the traditional title holder of Ciroman Laduga in Kachia, Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ibrahim Bayero, lamented the effect the economic crisis will have on this year’s Sallah celebrations across the country.
Bayero noted that he used to buy a ram for his aged mother for Sallah, but regretted that he could not afford such luxury this year.
He said, “There will be no celebration at all; the situation now really shows that people are suffering.”
The Daily Trust is reporting that 20,000 out of the total number of Nigerian pilgrims for this year’s Hajj, received treatments in clinics in Madinah and Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Some Nigerian pilgrims on their way to perform the Hajj
The revelation was made by the National Hajj Commission (NHC), which said it attended to the pilgrims through its national medical team.
Speaking on the development, the head of Hajj medical team, Dr Ibrahim Kana, said said this year’s figure is an increase compared to the number that received treatment at the same period last year. According to him, 5000 patients were treated as a result of reforms introduced by the leadership of the commission with the harmonization of all medical teams into a single unit.
The 2016 Hajj has been hit with some controversies including a report by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) that a Nigerian female travelling to Medinah, Saudi Arabia, in order to observe the pilgrimage tested positive to ingestion of hard drugs on Friday, September 2, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Also reports from Mecca, Saudi Arabia said Nigerian pilgrims had taken to defrauding their compatriots while on pilgrimage to the Muslim holy land. According to Leadership, there have been several cases of Nigerian pilgrims duping their fellow travelers on the current hajj trip.
Saudi Arabia has begun issuing hajj pilgrims with identification bracelets one year after a stampede killed around 2,300 people.
The bracelets are a reassurance to some pilgrims, though their distribution has been far from systematic ahead of the formal start of the hajj on Saturday. Saudi Arabia announced an investigation into last year’s stampede which happened during the hajj stoning ritual, but no findings have ever been published. Public statements and Saudi press reports show that changes have been made to prevent overcrowding even though no one was ever blamed for the tragedy.
After the disaster — the worst ever in hajj history — some foreign officials expressed concern about difficulties in identifying the dead. Each plasticised paper bracelet carries a bar code readable by smartphone. It indicates the pilgrim’s identity, nationality and place of lodging in Mecca. Additional data includes a contact in the pilgrim’s delegation and details provided when his or her visa was issued, the vice secretary of the ministry of hajj and umrah, Issa Rawas, told AFP.
“The aim is to equip all pilgrims” from abroad, who are expected to number more than 1.4 million, he said. Rawas did not specify the number of bracelets issued so far. Nabil Melhem, 61, a Palestinian bricklayer, wears one of the official bracelets, which he said cost about two riyals (53 cents). It is “like a passport,” said Melhem, of the occupied West Bank. The bracelet is two centimetres (almost an inch) wide and coloured green for pilgrims from Arab countries. “If we get lost, if we die, if we are sick or unable to talk, they can contact our delegation, thanks to the bracelet,” he told AFP. In the crowds which fill the Grand Mosque and its surroundings day and night, AFP saw numerous pilgrims wearing bracelets.
But some were issued by travel agents and don’t include the data recorded in the government’s bracelet.
74-year General Overseer of the Redeemed Christen Church of God (RCCG) Pastor E A Adeboye has said that he meant every-word he said about marriage during the recently concluded RCCG 64th annual convention.
Adeboye, who evidently was reacting to reactions that trailed his warnings to the youths of the church at RCCG 64th annual convention also said that his words are not for everyone. Adeboye wrote on his face book page on Wednesday
”Everything I said about marriage I meant it. That is for everybody. Just like living holy and making sure you make heaven.” Adeboye, worried about various reports of arranged marriages among brethren at 64th annual convention of the church which took place between 1st — 7th of August warned that ”no RCCG pastor should be seen to be involved in arranging marriages among brethren in the church.
Pastor Adeboye who had earlier counselled the youths of the church on marriage, further warned saying “don’t ever marry outside the church and you have no reason to marry outside RCCG. “Don’t marry a girl simply because she can sing! “In the choir there are some people that can sing but they are fallen angels! Marry a prayer warrior! If a girl cannot pray for one hour, don’t marry her. “Don’t marry a girl who is lazy! Don’t marry a girl who cannot cook, she needs to know how to do chores and cook because you cannot afford to be eating out all the time.
“Don’t marry a girl who is worldly! If you do, you have carried what you’ll worship for the rest of your life!”
– The Islamic group described the threats to Christians as ‘despicable’
– Group’s director insists that Islam is a religion of love and not hate
– Charges fellow Muslims on some teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
Muslims across the country have been asked to protect Christians against the new threat by Al-Barnawi, the new Boko Haram leader. This counsel was given by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), via a statement issued by its director, Ishaq Akintola, who described the Boko Haram leader’s threat as despicable, and stressed that it came from a twisted mind.
Christians formed a circle around Muslims as they prayed at the Occupy NASS venue recently. The newly-announced Boko Haram leader had accused his predecessor, Shekarau of killing fellow Muslims, declaring that he would not follow that path as he would kill Christians instead. The Muslim group has now issued the statement to quell such reports and asked Muslims to show solidarity towards Christians in their neighbourhood.
“The new leader of Boko Haram insurgents, Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, has called for the killing of Christians and the blowing up of churches. “The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) expresses total bewilderment at the depth of barbarism in the recent hate speech emanating from the leadership of Boko Haram. It is totally despicable and exceptionally criminal to target fellow products of the Adamic chromosome for annihilation. We have no doubt that this call could only have come from a twisted mind.
“Islam is love, not hatred. Islam gives life, not death. It builds and does not destroy. The Glorious Qur’an only allows Muslims to fight in self-defence (Qur’an 2:190). It forbids unjust and unlawful killing (Qur’an 6:151). It compares anyone who kills his fellow man to one who kills all homo sapiens (Qur’an 5:32). “We remind the Boko Haram coercion ideologues of the moderate posture of the Glorious Qur’an towards non-Muslims. Qur’an 2:256 says there should be no compulsion in religion (Laa ikraahun fil diin). “Qur’an 10:99 completely sweeps the carpet off the feet of agents of belligerence as it declares, ‘So you forcefully compel people to believe in Allah? But they would all have believed if Allah had wanted it so!’,” the message obtained by Daily Post read in part. Speaking about the differences in the faiths, Akintola stated further that, “Our differences in matters of faith are therefore part of the deliberate and grand design of the Divine Creator. Allah also affirms in Qur’an 11:118 that there would still have been differences even if the whole world follows a single religion. So what is special about belonging to a particular religion if we do not share love?
“This is why Allah reminded Prophet Muhammad to limit his mission to reminding people and never to make any attempt at controlling people’s lives (Qur’an 88:21 – 22).
“MURIC charges Muslims all over the world to limit their religious zeal to the true dictates of Islam as reflected in the verses of the Glorious Qur’an lest they transgress. They should leave those who reject Islam alone. Our hypothesis is that Allah did not give anyone the assignment to punish those who reject Islam “Finally, we urge Muslims in the country to demonstrate solidarity with their Christian neighbours by ensuring that Boko Haram elements are not allowed to launch attacks on Christians in their neighbourhood. We have a duty to defend our Christian neighbours at this critical stage. This is the way to keep Nigeria united.”
To counter the threats by the Boko Haram leader, militants in the Niger Delta region have also declared war on Muslims.
The Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders (NDRC), in a statement on Saturday, August 6, warned that Niger Delta youths would launch attack on any Muslim or mosque in the Niger Delta region if Boko Haram kill Christians or burn churches.
According to Vanguard, spokesperson of the militant group, W O I Izon-Ebi, described the mission by the new Boko Haram leader to kill all Christians and burn down all churches as an Islamization plot.
THE General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, has again warned Christians against entanglement with sin, urging all to desist from it. Adeboye and his wife Adeboye who made the call in a sermon titled; “You Shall Be Made Whole”, at the ongoing 2016 annual convention of the church, warned that sin removes God’s glory and gives room for sickness which, he said, is an agent of death. He further explained that at creation, there was no sickness but sickness and death came in when man entangled himself with sin by being disobedient to God’s instruction. He added that sin is contagious and it is an insulator that separates man from God.
Adeboye therefore warned that every act of sin must be dealt with before divine healing can take place in a man’s life, insisting: “At the creation there was no sickness, because in the beginning, everything that God created was good and perfect. It was sin that brings sickness. It is an agent of death. The wages of sin is death and agent of death is sickness. “Sin is contagious, once a believer messes him or herself with sin, such person’s prayer will become irrelevant and God cannot answer such prayer,” he averred.
Pastor Adeboye further highlighted that healing is good but wholeness is better, noting that God can cure the incurable, God can reverse the irreversible, can recreate, God can heal one person among a multitude and He has the power to heal all people.
43 babies born
The General Overseer joyfully announced that as at Wednesday night, a total number of 43 babies had been born at the church’s Maternity facility at the Redemption Camp. According to him, 27 of the babies are boys, while the remaining 16 were girls, saying “it appears that boys mean business during this convention.”
On sanitation, Daddy G.O. who repeatedly underscored the need for participants to be clean as cleanliness is next to Godliness, announced that Lagos Province 4 was the cleanest province as at Wednesday night. They are closely followed by Rivers Province 7 while the third position went to Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The dirtiest province, according to the cleric, was Lagos Province 45, followed by Ondo Province 1 and Lagos Province 18 respectively. He then reiterated his call on all participants to ensure they clean their dormitaries and general environment because it is of importance that children of God must at all times be clean.
The service of song for the slain evangelist of the Redeem Christian Church of God held on Friday, July 22. The atmosphere was cold, even as people wept their hearts for the murdered pastor’s wife.
Mrs Eunice Olawale met with an untimely death on Saturday, July 9.
Below are some photos that tell the sad story and the situation at the service of song for the 42-year old mother of 7 who was hacked down by suspected extremists.
Distraught husband Olawale Elisha tried to recall all the details of that fateful day when his wife was hacked to death.
Mr olawale said:
“It was about 6: 30 to 7am. I was in bed, but I had woken up, from sleep. My children approached me and said that some footballers were discussing about a woman who was killed while she was preaching.”
He immediately rushed to his phone and began calling his wife but her phone was switched off.
“We (Olawale and his daughter) strolled down to the place, about two or three hundred meters away from our house and we saw people gathered. We passed through the place where she had been murdered, but we did not know.
We came back again and saw a police man. The officer confirmed what we had been told but said we should go to the Phase 4 police station. At that time, my daughter whose name is Jessica was already crying, but I tried to cheer her up and told her that the murdered preacher could not have been my wife.
As we were entering the station gate, we saw a police van coming out of the station. My daughter looked back and saw something at the back of the police van and suddenly she cried.
I then turned back and saw that part of my wife’s body was covered; from the chest upward. So we began to cry, I even fell and they carried me into the station,” Mr Olawale narrated.
The federal government has added Thursday July 7, 2016, to the two-day public holiday it initially declared for the celebration of Eid-el fitr, following the non-appearance of the moon as at Monday night, signifying that the Ramadan fast will go on for one more day.
Abdulrahman Dambazau, minister of interior, made the declaration on behalf of the federal government in a statement on Tuesday, which was signed by Bassey Okon Akpanyung, permanent secretary of the ministry.
“This declaration followed the directive by the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto, to the effect that the Ramadan fast continues on Tuesday as a result of the non-sighting of the moon,” read the statement.
It urged Nigerians to use this period of sober reflections to ensure harmony, unity and peaceful co-existence, while giving full support to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in his sustained effort to pursue socio-economic and political growth of the nation.