Oyo State Pilgrims Stranded In Mecca, Protest Non-Payment of BTA

Muslim pilgrims from Oyo state who are already in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj rituals appear to have been stranded as Oyo Pilgrims Welfare Board (Muslim Wing) has refused to pay about 250 pilgrims the Basic Travel Allowance (BTA).

Recall that the National Hajj Commission, NAHCON, had fixed N2.5 million as 2022 Hajj Fee, adding that it is inclusive of $800 BTA per pilgrim.

The first batch of the pilgrims from the state left Murtala International Airport, Lagos aboard FlyNas airline in the early hour of Sunday, June 19, 2022.

But, five days after their arrival in Madinah, the pilgrims are yet to be paid their BTA, leaving them stranded with no money to feed.

Surprisingly, the second batch that arrived Madinah today, Thursday, June 23, 2022, came with $400 each.

However, they said they were ‘blackmailed’ into collecting $400 each from Nigeria as the officials asked them to either collect or be dropped from this year’s trip.

Report from Madinah says many pilgrims have fallen sick but unfortunately, they have no money to feed not to talk of buying drugs.

Further checks also reveal that the medical personnel that accompanied the pilgrims have no basic drugs to give them.

Recall that the pilgrims who made the first batch had paid for the Hajj since 2020 but could not travel because of COVID-19 pandemic that compelled Saudi Arabian government to ban foreign pilgrims for two years.

Investigations reveal that the state government may have diverted the pilgrims’ funds hence, the inability to pay their BTA.

The situation become unbearable on Thursday afternoon, when the pilgrims openly protested, calling on Governor Seyi Makinde to direct the Board to pay their BTA.

A video that is already going viral, shows the pilgrims protesting non-payment of their BTA.

They complained that others states paid their pilgrims on arrival in Madinah, citing Osun state that has since paid $800 BTA as an example.

However, Oyo state Pilgrims Welfare Board (Muslim Wing) collected N2.6 million from each of the intending pilgrims as against N2.5 million announced by NAHCON.

There was no official reaction as at the time of filing this story.