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Hajj: Two operators face jail term as 96 Nigerian pilgrims abscond

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Hajj: Two operators face jail term as 96 Nigerian pilgrims abscond

Two operators of Hajj and Umrah tours, Mr. Ibrahim Wali, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Family Travel & Tour Limited and Mr. Musa Jubril, Chairman and Chief Executive of Divine Travel & Tour limited are facing jail terms as 96 Nigerian pilgrims under their care eloped in Saudi Arabia.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which arrested the two operators of two travel and tour agencies, maintained that they are being held for allegedly trafficking the 96 Nigerians to Saudi Arabia.

Head of Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Ms Stella Nezan, who stated this, added that the suspects were arrested for allegedly trafficking of 96 Nigerians to Saudi Arabia using the 2017 Hajj exercise.

Flags were, according to NAPTIN spokesperson, raised recently by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in a letter of complaint against “Family Travel & Tour Limited which applied for and got allocation to take 450 persons to Saudi Arabia during the 2017 Hajj Exercise’’.

Months after the Hajj operations ended, the company, Nezan said, in a statement, has been unable to account for the 96 people and all attempts to get the company to bring them back has proved abortive.

“In the course of the investigation, Wali alleged that his friend Jubril, used his company to transact the business. The two suspects are making useful statements as investigation continues,” she said.

NAPTIP warned travel and tour op-erators in the Country to desist from recruiting innocent Nigerian for sexual and labour exploitation, adding that their actions were inimical to the development of the nation. In the same vein, the Director, FCT Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Malam Muhammad Bashir, has said that the board had commenced processing of visa for those who completed payment of their 2018 Hajj fare.

Bashir, at a news conference on preparations for the 2018 Hajj operation at the board’s head office in Abuja, maintained that NAHCON, had allocated 2,115 slots to the board and it had so far sold over 50 per cent of the slots to intending pilgrims. He said that the board had collected more than 80 per cent passports of those who paid deposits for their fares to ensure timely preparation.

The director, therefore, advised those who had not balance their fares to do so before May 31, to enable the board to meet the deadline for registration set by NAHCON. Bashir said the 2018 Hajj fare for FCT intending pilgrims was N1,492,867.15, with flat Basic Travel Allowance of $800. According to him, there is a reduction of N45,351.47, compare to what was paid during the 2017 Hajj. He attributed the reduction to concerted efforts by NAHCON to lessen the hardship of Hajj fare due to introduction of various policies by the Saudi Authority.

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