MONROVIA: The Secretary-general of the National Hajj and Umrah committee of the National Muslims Council of Liberia Sheikh Akibu Sheriff has disclosed that the pronouncement by internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf about the formation of the Varney Sirleaf Hajj Committee was in bad faith.
According to him, the pronouncement posed a serious rivalry to the National Muslims Council of Liberia with the sole objective of undermining the legitimacy of the National Muslims Council of Liberia.
Addressing a News Conference held at the Headquarters of the National Muslims Council of Liberia on Saturday July 16, 2022 on the Old Road in Sinkor, Sheikh Sheriff said the pronouncement undermined the legitimacy of the National Muslims Council of Liberia with respect to its programs in Liberia.
He said in order to justify their ulterior motive, the Varney Sirleaf Hajj Committee included in its membership the current Chairman, their immediate past Chair, the former Grand Mufti, Former Chairlady and other stakeholders, all of the National Muslims Council of Liberia, with the incumbent legal Counsel as the head who later withdrew his membership honorably from the committee.
Sheikh Sheriff indicated that what was more damaging in the actions of the Varney Sirleaf Hajj Committee was the propaganda that was spewed out by them and the illegal withholding of the “Code” for over one month.
He said the code which is a property solely designated to the National Muslims Council of Liberia Hajj Committee to facilitate the timely pre-financing of all Hajj related services.
Sheikh Sheriff noted that, the Hajj agencies through the Hajj and Umrah Committee of the National Muslims Council of Liberia has usually pre-financed the Hajj related services for the past years.
He also said unfortunately, the continued withholding of the Code by Minister Varney Sirleaf accounted for the failure of the Hajj Committee to pre-finance Hajj related activities this year.
Sheikh Sheriff stressed that however, the amount of US$556,000 was already paid for the 250 pilgrims from Liberia to their service provider here in Monrovia, pursuant to the terms and conditions of their contract, but their service provider could not remit said amount to the portal system because they never had access to the code on time.
He when it became glaring that the withholding of the “Code” was posing serious threat to the possibility of this year’s Hajj, the Muslims Counsel sought the intervention of the National Supreme Islamic Elder Counsel, which subsequently resulted to an urgent meeting with President George Weah where the Liberian leader made it emphatically clear that he had no knowledge about the formation of any Government Hajj Committee as was widely speculated.
“At this junction, the National Muslims Council of Liberia expresses its thanks and appreciation to President Weah for his timely intervention and for allowing Nathaniel McGill to peacefully mitigate the outstanding stalemate that resulted into the departure of the nearly 50 percent of the pilgrims from Liberia” he said .
He furthered that, amidst all of the claims by the Varney Sirleaf Hajj Committee that the National Muslims Council of Liberia received all of the payments for their intended pilgrims and that the Counsel deliberate denied their pilgrims from attending this year’s Haj, no single dollar was ever paid to the National Hajj and Umrah Committee of the National Muslims Council of Liberia or its accredited Hajj agencies on behalf of their 50 pilgrims.
Speaking further, he said, concerning the issuance of the visa, passport, of pilgrims from the three accredited Hajj agencies were deposited with the National Muslims Counsel Hajj and Umarah Committee on or before the 20 of June seven days before the start of scanning process for the issuance of visa.
He said more than 80 percent of the passport already received were forwarded for processing on the 27 of June 2022 adding that, seven days delay was intended to accommodate the passport of pilgrims from the Varney Sirleaf Hajj Committee.