During the 2023 hajj exercise in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the number of Nigerian pilgrims who lost their lives has reached 13, while an alarming 41,632 others have fallen ill. Dr. Usman Galadima, the leader of the Nigerian medical team for the pilgrimage, revealed these statistics during a post-Arafat review session in Makkah on Sunday night. The team provided consultations for 25,772 pilgrims during the Muna-Arafat period, and an additional 15,680 were treated in Madinah and Makkah before Arafat. Dr. Galadima recalled that seven pilgrims had already died before Arafat.
The casualties were distributed as follows: Plateau (1), Kaduna (2), Osun (2), Borno (1), Yobe (1), FCT (1), Benue (1), and Lagos (1). Private tour operators reported three deaths. Dr. Galadima further explained that four pilgrims died at Arafat, while two passed away at Mina during the Muna-Arafat period.
Dr. Galadima recommended a thorough pre-hajj medical screening, accompanied by the issuance of a certificate of medical fitness. He also stressed the importance of discouraging elderly and seriously ill pilgrims from participating in the stoning of the devil ritual at Jamarat. Furthermore, he emphasized the need to enforce the recommended grouping of pilgrims by Saudi authorities.
To enhance the response to emergency cases, Dr. Galadima urged states with functional ambulances to contribute their vehicles to the national medical team’s pool for better coordination. In another announcement, Goni Sanda, the commissioner of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in charge of aviation, stated that the return flights of Nigerian pilgrims would commence on July 4 and conclude on August 3.