Hajj: Stranded Oyo pilgrims buy return tickets in Saudi Arabia

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By Musliudeen Adebayo

Some pilgrimages who participated in the just-concluded Hajj exercise in Saudi Arabia from Oyo State, have decided to purchase their return tickets by themselves.

DAILY POST gathered that this is due to the alleged inability of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to airlift them back home as expected.

DAILY POST had earlier reported that over 1,000 pilgrims from Oyo State who are supposed to have been airlifted back home are currently stranded in Saudi Arabia. 

The pilgrims were supposed to be return on July 10, but none of them has been airlifted.

DAILY POST, however, gathered that some of the pilgrims have decided to purchase their return tickets back home due to the inability of the commission to airlift them as scheduled.

One of the pilgrims from the state, Alhaji Oriyomi Hamzat, told DAILY POST that he and some of the pilgrims have purchased their return tickets by themselves because of the suffering in the holy land.

The Ibadan-based broadcaster, who has landed in Nigeria ,told DAILY POST that the problem is from NAHCON.

Hamzat added that some of the pilgrims included a former senator and former pilgrims board chairman have found alternative by purchasing their return tickets by themselves due to the suffering they were subjected to.

He, however, revealed that the other pilgrims who could not afford to buy their return tickets are currently stranded in the country.

“I have landed at the airport. We were stranded before I purchased my own return ticket. All other people who are still in Saudi Arabia are still stranded. They do not know when they will be airlifted.

“I can confirm to you that myself, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, a former Chairman of Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Taofeek Akewugbagold bought our own return tickets. The fault is not from Oyo State, it is from NAHCON. About 10 people have purchased their return tickets,” he said.

But, the Deputy Director, Information and Publication of NAHCON, Mousa Ubandawaki, when contacted noted that pilgrims from the state would be airlifted tomorrow (Wednesday).

Ubandawaki in a reply to DAILY POST enquiry Tuesday evening, said that the pilgrims were not stranded.

“It is not true that Oyo State or any other one is abandoned here. Nassarawa flight is slated for tonight which is the second one. As far as Oyo State is concerned, they will have their day when the Saudi General Authority on Civil Aviation( GACA) approve the slot for the airline.

“Oyo is flying tomorrow. They are not stranded. The chairman of Oyo is right now in our office to collect the letter of release for the first batch of pilgrims traveling tomorrow,” he said.

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