From Edmond Gyebi, Tamale
Pressure is mounting on the National Hajj Board to ‘vomit’ about $400,000 US dollars belonging to about 102 disappointed Pilgrims from the three Northern Regions, before the end of January 2011, or face legal battle.
It is believed that the Board also owes other private Hajj agencies, whose clients were also disappointed and left to their fate at the Kotoka International Airport and the Hajj Village in Accra this year.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ayana Hajj Agency in Tamale, Alhaji Yakubu Ayana, who seems to have come under excessive pressure from the disappointed Pilgrims, as a results of the undue delay in refunding monies paid for their air ticket and other vital traveling documents, has told the media that he can no longer accept further excuses from the Hajj Board.
The renowned business tycoon and philanthropist furiously maintained that the various “diplomatic tactics” he had employed to save his head from the angry pilgrims, who troop to his office on daily basis with all manner of abusive comments, had not yielded any positive results, since they apparently see no reason why the National Hajj Board should withhold their monies.
According to Alhaji Ayana, he wrote a letter to the National Hajj Board for refund and was told that the court had placed an injunction on the board’s account, but he still insisted that that the freeze should not affect his private business.
He explained that about 102 out of the over 620 pilgrims, who registered with his agency for this year’s Hajj, were unjustifiably disappointed by the board, and the victims had since mounted incessant pressure on him for their monies.
Alhaji Ayana, who reiterated his unqualified apology to the clients, passionately appealed to the government and the office of the National Chief Imam to impress upon the National Hajj Board to release the money to enable him pay back the people.
He noted that Ghana as a nation had been given a yearly quota of sending some 6,850 Muslims to Mecca yearly, but since the last 25 years that he had operated as an Agent, Ghana had not been able to even send 3,000 Pilgrims.
He, therefore, did not understand why the Hajj Board should purchase only 2,500 air tickets from the Saudi Embassy instead of the 3,000 people who registered with the various Hajj Agencies. The inability of the Board to deny those people visas did not only create panic and disappointment, but also reduced the integrity of the agencies, who served as bridges between the people and the Hajj Board.
Alhaji Ayana, however, disputed alleged claims by the National Hajj Board that the Saudi
Embassy gave Ghana only 2,500 quota for the 2010 pilgrimage, and stated that the real quota was 6,850.