The Adamawa State government has decried the attitude of some of the state’s intending pilgrims for holding an aircraft hostage at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State.
The pilgrims reportedly became frustrated, Saturday, when instead of ferrying them to Saudi Arabia, the plane instead landed in Kano.
The pilgrims, perhaps apprehensive that they could be abandoned in Kano, held the plane hostage.
However, the Adamawa State Acting Governor, in a statement by his spokesperson, Babayola Toungo, on Sunday, said much as the government sympathises with the plight of the pilgrims, it finds it reprehensible for those embarking on a spiritual journey “to behave in a manner comparable to children”.
The statement added that the pilgrims, who held the plane hostage in Kano, were earlier briefed on the travel arrangement and the efforts the government is making in collaboration with the National Hajj Commission, NAHCON, to ensure that no pilgrim from Adamawa State is left behind.
It noted that those taken to Kano were informed that they would be airlifted from the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport to Saudi Arabia via a different aircraft from the one that flew them from Yola to Kano.
It also said the plane that took them to Kano was to come back to Yola and pick about five hundred and eighty more passengers to Jeddah.
“This was explained to them in no uncertain words”, the statement said.
Giving reasons for the arrangement, the Adamawa Government said the Yola International Airport has no landing capability for a plane the size of the Boeing 747 in the night and therefore the need for the plane that went to Kano to be back in the day.
“By holding the aircraft hostage in Kano, the pilgrims have unwittingly distorted a carefully reworked schedule that shall ensure that all of them are airlifted before the closure of Saudi airspace”, the government said.
The government said though it is still working round the clock to make sure all the intending pilgrims are airlifted, it however expressed “its disappointment in the strongest terms possible of the behaviour of our pilgrims.
“Pilgrimage is supposed to be a spiritual journey and one is expected to be spiritually ready for such a trip.
“A pilgrim is supposed to be an epitome of piety, comportment and orderliness but not certainly what was displayed in Kano. As ambassadors of Adamawa State, all are expected to be embodiment of decency and decorum”, it said.