Dashed dreams: 150 Hajj-bound pilgrims stranded in Lagos

Posted by News Express | 9 October 2013 | 3,592 times

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The hope of no fewer than 150 intending pilgrims to this year’s Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, appear to have become dashed as they are now stranded at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.

The intending pilgrims, mainly from Ogun, Osun and Oyo states, were prevented from travelling following their inability to show evidence of having secured a travel visa for the trip. Their fate hung in the balance last night as the Jeddah Airport in Saudi Arabia is scheduled to officially close today.

While the official excuse is that their visas are yet to be returned by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Abuja, the pilgrims said they had been defrauded by a travel agent hired to secure travel visa, airfares and accommodation for them while in Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrims were expected to travel to Mecca on Friday with Qatar Airways but were rejected due to the failure of the travel agent to show up with their passports and travel visas. They said each of them paid N950,000 for visa processing, airfares and other logistics charges.

Lamenting their fate, one of the pilgrims, Mr. Abdulwasiu Adeyemi from Abeokuta in Ogun State, disclosed that they arrived at the airport as early as 7am on Friday. He said the passport was only given to him and some others yesterday and that they were asked to pay additional N280,000 for a return flight ticket for the exercise.

“I’ve never had any business deal with this company (the travel agent). He told us to be at the airport as early as 10am last Friday for our flight with Qatar Airways and we complied, but unfortunately, our passport and visas were not given to us by the agent as he claimed that they were not ready then,” Adeyemi lamented.

Another victim, Alhaja Muibat Arogunjo, lamented that the agent had turned her pilgrimage into a thing of sorrow. She said she had spent all the money in her savings for the exercise and could no longer cough out more funds for a new ticket.

•Photo shows a cross section of intending pilgrims, but not the ones referred to in the story.

Source: News Express

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