The protesting pilgrims are those from Ekiti and Ondo who claimed they had been abandoned at the airport without any arrangements to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia.

But the Kwara State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board has reacted to the protest by some pilgrims at the Ilorin International Airport.  

The pilgrims, particularly those from Ondo and Ekiti states, barricaded the gates leading to the airport.

The Executive Secretary of the board, Alhaji Tunde Jimoh, who spoke with VON in a telephone conversation from Mecca in Saudi Arabia said Kwara state had airlifted all its 2,026 pilgrims to this year’s hajj.

The board while responding to media reports stated that the last batch of Kwara pilgrims totalling 369 including officials left Ilorin on 24 July.

The board also noted that the three batches of its pilgrims already airlifted had arrived in Mecca in continuation of their hajj rites after spending eight days in Medina while the last batch will leave Medina on Wednesday to Macca to join other pilgrims.

The board also confirmed that all Kwara state pilgrims wee hale and hearty.

In a similar reaction, the state government through a statement by its Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, disclosed that the protest by pilgrims from the neighbouring states had no connection with the state or officials of the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board as being claimed by some persons.

According to him, all pilgrims registered with the Kwara State government for the 2019 pilgrimage have been airlifted to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, NAHCON, the airport authority and the airline scheduled to airlift the remaining pilgrims from the Ilorin zone comprising those from Kwara, Ondo and Ekiti states were said to be making efforts to airlift the protesting pilgrims from Ondo and Ekiti states to the loly land by today (Tuesday), Voice of Nigeria reports.

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