10th December, 2010
A Lagos resident and civil servant, Alhaji Yusuf Abiodun, who recently returned fromÂ a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, alongside 39 others, has warned prospectiveÂ Muslim pilgrims to be wary of travel agents as some of them promise more than theyÂ can deliver.
He told P.M.NEWS that trouble started when he approached an Ibadan, Oyo State-basedÂ travel agency and discussed with the female ManagingÂ Director that he wanted toÂ embark on a journey to the holy land. Abiodun said he chose that particular travelÂ agency after he heard an advertisement on the radio.
Abiodun said: â€œAfter discussing with the managing director, she gave me herÂ conditions which I fulfilled.â€
â€œI made series of payments amounting to N850,000 and $150. We were supposed toÂ travel according to her on 29 October, 2010. But we did not travel on that day.
â€œShe later postponed the journey to 3 November, 2010, but when I got to the MurtalaÂ Muhammed International Airport on that day with about 39 other clients andÂ prospective pilgrims, we discovered that the managing director had not even paid theÂ person who processed our visas and passports.
â€œWhen we protested at the airport, the man she contracted to process our documents,Â Alhaji Abdul Rasheed Adeleke, Managing Director of Al Irshad International TravelÂ and Tours, told us that the woman was owing him millions of naira and that he wouldÂ not release our documents until she pays him,â€ Abiodun said.
â€œAfter staying at the airport for four days, Alhaji Adeleke took pity on us andÂ secured accommodation for the 40 of us at Beesham Hotel, Mafoluku, Oshodi for threeÂ days, and he paid the bill. He airlifted us to Mecca after we managed to pay himÂ another N300,000 for transportation,â€ he added.
â€œI have appealed to the woman to pay back my money or I may have to seek refuge inÂ the law court,â€ he said.
When P.M.NEWS contacted the woman on phone about Abiodunâ€™s allegations, she deniedÂ it as a tissue of lies and warned him to desist from tarnishing her good name.
Corroborating the claim of Abiodun, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Adeleke, MD of Al IrshadÂ Travel and Tours who eventually airlifted the 40 distressed pilgrims said: â€œI knowÂ the Alhaja very well. She came to me during the preparation for the just concludedÂ hajj that she had about 40 passengers to give me to airlift to Mecca.
â€œWe negotiated and settled for N650,000 per person totalling N26m and she told toÂ start work. She did not pay me anything till the date of departure when I asked forÂ my money. She begged me to take the pilgrims, promising to pay me but I refused.
â€œHowever, when I saw how distressed the 40 pilgrims she had abandoned at the airportÂ were, Allah touched my heart to help them.
â€œI lodged all of them at Beesham Hotel at Oshodi for three days on my bill, toÂ enable me perfect their bookings. I airlifted them to Mecca after they managed toÂ pay me N300,000. The promised to pay the balance when they come back.
â€œThough the woman had paid me about N9.7million, she is yet to pay the balanceÂ N16.730million and she is now threatening my life because I asked for my money.
â€œI am now calling on the Nigeria Police Force to take notice of her threat to myÂ life for future reference,â€ Adeleke added.