9th December, 2010
Some clerics in the Lagos State contingent to this yearâ€™s hajj in Saudi Arabia haveÂ formed a syndicate to extort money from Lagos pilgrims who are stranded in the HolyÂ land.
P.M.NEWS gathered that the situation has gone out of hand that the Lagos StateÂ Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Alhaji Babatunde Balogun, described it asÂ unfair and embarrassing.
A source still in the Holy land told our reporter that the group, comprising mostlyÂ alfas and civil servants have cajoled over 200 innocent pilgrims into paying SR7Â (Seven Saudi Arabia Riyals) equivalent to Nigeriaâ€™s N280 for alleged ZyaraÂ (sightseeing) at Medina.
Though, some pilgrims like the traditional ruler of Oworonshoki in Kosofe LocalÂ Council Development Area of Lagos State, Oba Bashir Olohuntoyin condemned theÂ situation, the alleged staff stood their ground, insisting that the state governmentÂ did not make any provision for the obligatory Zyara in Medina.
According to the monarch, â€œIt is not proper because the state government has madeÂ adequate provision for all pilgrims to perform their hajj without paying anyÂ unnecessary money, especially now that most pilgrims have spent all their money.
â€œOrdinarily, I would have loved to pay the money requested by these people for allÂ the pilgrims but when I realised that the state government and the commissioner forÂ home affairs and culture who is also the Amir-Ul-Hajj for the state were not awareÂ and in support of it.â€
Reacting to the situation, Balogun asked: â€œWhich money and who asked for that?Â Nobody is directed to collect money from any pilgrim, all the ulamas we brought hereÂ have been sufficiently taken care of. No money should be demanded from any pilgrim.â€