INVESTIGATION: How Saudi based Travel agent failed to refund N535 million to 2022 Hajj operators
The crises that characterised the 2022 Hajj may not be over yet as some concerned intending pilgrims who paid Hajj fares to a Kano-based Hajj and Umrah operator are in dilemma over the refusal of a Saudi-based Hajj agent to refund the sum of N535 Million to Khaleel Travel after failure to airlift them to undertake the pilgrimage.
Media reports indicated that a Kano-based Hajj and umrah operator, Khaleel Travel and Tours had petitioned the Nigerian Consulate General in Saudi Arabia over the refusal of Alkahasafi Travel and Tours Limited and Alshamel International Limited Company to refund over N535 Million paid to process the visa, air ticket and hotel accommodation for some Hajj 2022 intending pilgrims. The Company had planned to utilize Skyjet to airlifts their pilgrims to perform 2022 Hajj.
The petition, signed by Alhaji Ibrahim Khaleel of Khaleel Travel and Tours Limited on behalf of other affected travel agents, revealed that the affected firms have requested the Saudi-based firms to refund the sum of over N535 million paid into their accounts for services during the 2022 Hajj operation.
They said the firms failed to render the agreed services and as such, they should refund the said amount.
“We have attached all deposit receipts in this petition to authenticate our claim. This petition is a sign of the respect and consideration we have for the Nigerian consulate as law-abiding Nigerian citizens. We hope the good office of the Nigerian consul in Saudi Arabia will take up the issue and address it amicably,” the petition said.
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HAJJ REPORTERS learnt that some intending pilgrims had lodged complaints at Bompai police station in Kano against some Hajj and Umrah operators for refusing to refund them their 2022 hajj fare after failing to airlift them to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 hajj exercise.
Thereafter, Alkhasafi Travels and Tours wrote Kano State Police Commissioner dated 26th July 2022. The letter titled “NOTIFICATION OF INDEBTEDNESS TO OUR BUSINESS PARTNER (KHALIL TRAVELS AND TOURS AND AL ANSAR GLOBAL TOUR LTD AND OTHER CUSTOMERSS AND COMMITEMENT TO SETTLE THE LIABILITY”.
Again, on 9th of September 2022, Khaleel Travel and Tours Limited wrote a letter of Complain to the Consulate General, Nigerian Embassy in Jeddah stating that Alkhasafi and Ashameel international limited refused to refund the sum of N535, 440:00 paid to the duo for 2022 hajj services.
READ ALSO: HAJJ 2022: ADAMAWA BEGINS REFUNDS OF HAJJ FARE BALANCE TO PILGRIMS
The Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah was said to have waded into the matter and invited the Saudi-based travel and tour operators for talks. After the meeting, Alkhasafi Travel and Tours agreed to refund Khalel travel the agreed sum.
The affected companies promised to pay back the refund to Khalel’s travel on the 7th of November after the Saudi-based agent might have paid the said sum.
Consequently, on the 8th of October 2022, Alkhasafi Travel and Tours wrote a letter of undertaking and addressed it to the Consulate General, Nigerian Embassy in Jeddah. Signed by the CEO of Alkhasafi Sadat Shehu, the letter titled LETTER OF UNDERTAKING said “having established the dynamics surrounding the transactions as well as the counterparty to the transaction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in respect of the complaints that was instituted by Khaleel travel and Tour limited against us: we; Alkhasafi Travel and Tours wish to undertake that the net sum of money will be refunded to Khaleel travel and tour by end of the first week in November (7th November).
Though, Alkhasafi Travel and Tours stated in the letter of undertaking that the promise was premised on the commitment of the representative of Ashameel international limited company to refund back to Alkhasafi all monies paid for the failed operations.
However, HAJJ REPORTERS learned that Alkhasafi Travel and Tours is yet to refund the said sum as of the time of writing this report. One of the intending pilgrims, Alh Awwal told HAJJ REPORTERS that they spoke with the MD of Khalel travels and he informed them (intending pilgrims) that they will petition the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
“We wrote to Nigeria’s consulate in Jeddah, they invited them, and an agreement was reached for them to refund the money on the 7th of November.
“We have spoken with the MD of Khalel Travel and they confirmed that Alkhasafi Travel has not paid the Money. So, we are left with no option. We have to exploit all avenues to get our money back,”
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