Intending pilgrims to depart to Saudi Arabia from Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara and Oyo State on Monday disrupted activities through protest at Ilorin Airport over flight delay.
Concise News gathered that they were said to have started their protest at about 3 a.m., blocking Ilorin/Ogbomoso/Ibadan expressway with old tyres. They also shut the gate leading to the airport.
The protesters did not allow airport workers to resume duty as they prevented vehicles from coming in or going out of the airport.
The intending pilgrims alleged that they had been in Ilorin Hajj camp for the past 15 days without provision of an aircraft to convey them to Saudi Arabia for the Holy Pilgrimage while they were subjected to poor and unhygienic condition at the camp.
“We have been in camp for 15 days, sleeping on the bare floor and buying food at an exorbitant price from our purse,” one of the protesters identified as Ayobami Muftau said.
“We were moved to the airport on Saturday based on the promise that an aircraft would arrive to convey us to Jeddah at 11 p.m. on Saturday. Up till now, we have not seen the aircraft and there was no explanation from the concerned authority.“
Ayobami appealed to the Federal Government to come to their aid by providing aircraft that would transport them to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj rites.
Another pilgrim from Ekiti State, Usman Isa, who said that they left Aiyede-Ekiti 10 days ago, alleged that the pilgrims were exposed to harsh weather conditions as “all of us, both male and female were made to sleep in the open hall at the hajj camp and airport”.
However, the acting Manager of Ilorin Airport, Deji Eniola, said the problem facing the pilgrims emanated from Med-View Airline delegated to convey them to Saudi Arabia.
He explained that the Med-View Airline was being expected in Ilorin since Saturday but did not come, adding that “there is no explanation from the management of the airline on why it has not come to airlift the pilgrims”.
Reacting to the development, Rafiu Ajakaye, Chief Press Secretary to Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, said: “We wish to clarify that every intending pilgrim registered with the Kwara State Government has since been airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the 2019 Hajj.
“There are a total 2,026 pilgrims from the state, the last batch of whom took off on July 24, 2019, according to figures from the state pilgrims’ board.
“To that extent, the protest this morning at the Ilorin International Airport was by some intending pilgrims from neighbouring states.
“This has no connection whatsoever with the Kwara State Government or officials of Kwara State Muslim Pilgrims Board as is being claimed by some persons.”