1,000 Oyo Pilgrims, Others Stranded In Saudi Arabia





Precisely two weeks ago, after the end of hajj  in Saudi Arabia, over 1,000 pilgrims from Oyo State are said to be stranded in Saudi Arabia following the uncertainty about their return back to Nigeria. 


It was learned from the pilgrims' tent that arrangements to transport them back to the country had fallen through.


Professor Sayed Malik, the state's head of the Muslim Pilgrims' Welfare Board, commented on the development, saying that the board's efforts to secure the timely return of the pilgrims were hampered by logistical issues.


“We planned to take our pilgrims back to Nigeria immediately after their return to Makkah from Mina. But NAHCON and the airline contracted to convey us, Aero Contractors were not responding to our demands for prompt airlift. Later we were told by NAHCON that the airline was denied a landing permit in Jeddah,” Malik said.


According to him, “the issue was later resolved and the airline ferried the first batch of Nasarawa pilgrims back to Nigeria. It was scheduled that Oyo State pilgrims would be transported back to Nigeria in batches as from July 10.


‘’But things took a dramatic turn as the airline officials refused to airlift the pilgrims as earlier agreed. We were surprised that there was no communication from the airline and NAHCON officials on July 10 about our departure and our pilgrims waited in vain at their hotels for the officials who didn’t show up.


“We later learned that the Aero Contractors aircraft which transported the first batch of Nasarawa pilgrims to Nigeria didn’t come back for other pilgrims in Saudi but remained grounded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja because the airline failed to secure permit to land in Jeddah from Saudi aviation authorities,” Malik said.






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