Muslim Pilgrim Recounts Ordeal


A Lagos resident and civil servant, Alhaji Yusuf Abiodun, who recently returned from  a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, alongside 39 others, has warned prospective  Muslim pilgrims to be wary of travel agents as some of them promise more than they  can deliver.

He told P.M.NEWS that trouble started when he approached an Ibadan, Oyo State-based  travel agency and discussed with the female Managing  Director that he wanted to  embark on a journey to the holy land. Abiodun said he chose that particular travel  agency after he heard an advertisement on the radio.

Abiodun said: “After discussing with the managing director, she gave me her  conditions which I fulfilled.”

“I made series of payments amounting to N850,000 and $150. We were supposed to  travel according to her on 29 October, 2010. But we did not travel on that day.

“She later postponed the journey to 3 November, 2010, but when I got to the Murtala  Muhammed International Airport on that day with about 39 other clients and  prospective pilgrims, we discovered that the managing director had not even paid the  person who processed our visas and passports.

“When we protested at the airport, the man she contracted to process our documents,  Alhaji Abdul Rasheed Adeleke, Managing Director of Al Irshad International Travel  and Tours, told us that the woman was owing him millions of naira and that he would  not release our documents until she pays him,” Abiodun said.

“After staying at the airport for four days, Alhaji Adeleke took pity on us and  secured accommodation for the 40 of us at Beesham Hotel, Mafoluku, Oshodi for three  days, and he paid the bill. He airlifted us to Mecca after we managed to pay him  another N300,000 for transportation,” he added.

“I have appealed to the woman to pay back my money or I may have to seek refuge in  the law court,” he said.

When P.M.NEWS contacted the woman on phone about Abiodun’s allegations, she denied  it as a tissue of lies and warned him to desist from tarnishing her good name.

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Corroborating the claim of Abiodun, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Adeleke, MD of Al Irshad  Travel and Tours who eventually airlifted the 40 distressed pilgrims said: “I know  the Alhaja very well. She came to me during the preparation for the just concluded  hajj that she had about 40 passengers to give me to airlift to Mecca.

“We negotiated and settled for N650,000 per person totalling N26m and she told to  start work. She did not pay me anything till the date of departure when I asked for  my money. She begged me to take the pilgrims, promising to pay me but I refused.

“However, when I saw how distressed the 40 pilgrims she had abandoned at the airport  were, Allah touched my heart to help them.

“I lodged all of them at Beesham Hotel at Oshodi for three days on my bill, to  enable me perfect their bookings. I airlifted them to Mecca after they managed to  pay me N300,000. The promised to pay the balance when they come back.

“Though the woman had paid me about N9.7million, she is yet to pay the balance  N16.730million and she is now threatening my life because I asked for my money.

“I am now calling on the Nigeria Police Force to take notice of her threat to my  life for future reference,” Adeleke added.

—Paul Iyoghojie

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