Lagos — Hundreds of pilgrims for this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia were at the weekend stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, as their agents could not be found.
The pilgrims claimed that their agents brought them from different states to airlift them to Jeddah on Friday evening aboard the rested Bellview Airlines flight.
They said that they were disappointed on Friday evening when an official of the airline informed them that they would not be airlifted on the Lagos-Jeddah flight, rather IRS Airlines would first ferry them from the domestic terminal to Kano where they would board a flight to Mecca.
They flaunted computer printouts of their air tickets and complained that they were not comfortable with the Lagos-Kano-Mecca arrangement.
One Alhaji Olojede Rammon, an agent who did not disclose the name of his company, said what the management of the airline introduced was not part of the agreement he had with the airline.
He said before he brought his clients to the airport, he was assured that the pilgrims would travel directly from Lagos and not through any other airport.
Some of the pilgrims who felt duped had threatened to attack a petrol station and other business interests of an agent who collected N750, 000 from each of them since 2008 to assist them travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj.
One of them who did not disclose his name said he paid N3 million for four of his relations to the Ogun State-based agent who had been avoiding him since the trip to Mecca was botched last year.
He said the agent promised them that they would travel this year. “But he has not shown up here. He has switched off his phones and he is not making effort to refund the money,” he declared.
In the meantime, a spokesman of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye, expressed surprise that Bellview had to sell tickets to passengers on a route it does not have permission to fly.
More so, the airline had closed its shop temporarily, and NCAA had accepted the airline’s decision to suspend its scheduled domestic, regional and intercontinental pending the time it would bring aircraft to operate the routes.