Regional Chief Imams from across the country are, as a matter of urgency, calling for the dissolution of the committee of inquiry set up to probe into the circumstances that caused the discomfort of Hajj pilgrims during the 2006/7 Hajj.
The Chief Imams contend that the committee does not have the legal mandate and consent of the majority of Moslems necessary to carry out such an investigation.
According to the Chief Imams, the majority of the members of the committee of inquiry are also members of the organisation that makes up the current Hajj Council which "compromises the work of the committee and smacks of a possible bias and prejudice”.
They went on to say: “We have realised that almost all the members of the committee of inquiry are also members of the organisation that makes up the current Hajj Council. This, in our opinion is most untenable for as it is said in law. Likewise a person cannot be a referee or umpire and player at the same time.”
At a press conference in Kumasi organised by all ten regional Chief Imams under the auspices of the National Chief Imam, the Imams said they were not sure as to whom the committee should submit its report, adding “even if they submit it to the body that set it up, we are not sure exactly what they could do about it as they do not have any mandate whatsoever to do what they did”.
Alhaji Mohammed Ghazari Yakubu, the Northern Regional Deputy Imam who acted as spokesman for the Imams, suggested that the office of the Chief Imam collaborate with the office of the Chief of Staff to set up a committee of inquiry devoid of both Government and personal interferences to launch a fresh probe into the circumstances surrounding the inability of the Hajj Council to deliver as expected, despite the non-involvement of Government.
This committee, the spokesman continued, should after its investigation submit the final report to the office of the Chief of Staff for the right action to be taken, which he believed could lead to the reconstitution of a new Hajj Council.
Alhaji Ghazari Yakubu also suggested that the Chief Imam"s office and the ten regional Imams should enter into a partnership with Government to ensure an oversight responsibility on all issues and activities concerning the Hajj.
He said such efforts if well implemented could enhance the decentralisation of activities of the council and also bode well for the unity which is much desired by the Moslem community.
The regional Imams called on the Hajj Council to immediately refund all the 499 “disappointed pilgrims this year, their monies in full or where they request that the monies be kept for the next Hajj”, stressing “not a pesewa more should be taken even if there is an increment, and the necessary steps should be taken to ensure that they make the pilgrimage next time”.
On the issue of frantic attempts by some people to discredit the office of the Chief Imam, the Imams emphatically cautioned that they will not sit by and watch undiscerning people through their parochial interests, thwart the effort and progress of the high office of the Chief Imam in bringing unity to the entire Moslem community.
They refuted allegations that the Chief Imam's office is sectarian and political, contending that it is the national office carrying a national mandate of overseeing the affairs of all Moslem citizens in the country and will become answerable to Allah for their actions and inactions on the judgment day.
The Chief Imams also used the platform to congratulate President Kufuor on his elevation as the Chairman of the African Union and expressed optimism that his tenure in office will be peaceful and bring hope to the hopeless on the African continent.