Garba Bakono, a Muslim pilgrim from Nasarawa Local Government of Nasarawa State, has narrated how official from his state gave him six pieces of $1 bills and two pieces of $2 bills instead of eight pieces of $100 US bill as his basic transport allowance.
Mr. Bakolo, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in Madina on Saturday evening, shortly before being transported to Makkah, said he was nearly lynched by a shop owner when he ignorantly tried to pay for some goods with the money.
“That was when I realised that, I have been shotchanged by one Hayatu, an official of Nasarawa State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, who distributed the BTA to us after spending four days at Abuja Airport before our departure on Sunday,” he said.
The pilgrim said he was at the Abuja pilgrims camp penultimate Thursday, before he and other pilgrims were finally airlifted on Sunday with the third flight to Madina.
“We were only advised to ensure we receive eight pieces of the dollar currency, during the intending pilgrims enlightenment program at home. So, we ignorantly did not take notice of denominations,” he said.
Our reporter learnt that the envelop containing the money handed to the victim with his e-passport at the camp, did not bear his name, as noticed on other pilgrims’ envelope that contained the exact denominations.
Help however came to the victim, when our PREMIUM TIMES reporter and an Inspection and Compliance team from the National Hajj Commission , NAHCON, put a call to the executive secretary of the board, Abubakar Nalaraba, in Makkah.
Mr. Nalaraba referred the case to the chief security officer of the board, Aliyu Aboki, who was on ground in Madina.
Mr. Aboki said names of all intending pilgrims were written at the back of the envelop containing the $800 (in $100 bills) alongside e-passports handed to each pilgrim.
“If his name is not written on the envelop, then how does the name tally with the name on his e-passport?” he questioned.
“He is supposed to be either in the first or second flight, but, we wonder how he ended up coming in the third flight,” he said.
Mr. Aboki directed some officials to make immediate refund of full BTA to the pilgrim.
“The first measure, as you can see, is for the pilgrim to be paid his full BTA of $800, as we commence full investigation into this unfortunate incident,” Mr. Aboki told the team of NAHCON officials and PREMIUM TIMES.