Some Kenyan Muslim pilgrims who were to travel to Hajj in Saudi Arabia have lost over Ksh12 million (about $120,000) to a Nairobi-based agent.
The about 30 pilgrims were excited at the prospect of travelling to Mecca but, to their dismay, they were left stranded in Eastleigh, Nairobi after the agency and person responsible for their travel arrangements received the money and then disappeared.
According to a statement by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem), Nur Hassan Abdi, a hajj agent operating under the business name Ithaf Hajj and Umra Agency, allegedly received the cash from a number of prospective pilgrims for the 2019 hajj in Saudi Arabia but did not fulfil his obligations.
He is alleged to be on the run with the victims’ passports after being paid between Ksh350,000 ($3,500) and Ksh400,000 ($4,000) by each individual.
Ibrahim Mohammed, who is one of the victims, said the man approached him at his home saying he runs a registered agency that takes people to hajj.
“At first I did not believe him so later on it emerged that he did not approach me alone. He was going door to door asking people if they will be willing to go to Hajj this year through his agency,” explained Mr Mohammed.
He added that he deposited Ksh600,000 ($6,000) to the agency’s account and waited for the day of travelling to Saudi Arabia but the agent was nowhere to be found.
“The day for travelling came, we were ready but the man who approached us was missing and had already received some money from many people,” said Mr Mohammed.
Meanwhile, as Mr Mohammed was busy waiting for the man to show up, another victim, Mohammed Amin who had also paid Mr Abdi Ksh800,000 (8,000) turned up.
The victims were disappointed and reported the matter to Pangani Police Station under OB number 133/02/08/2019.
Mr Mohammed claimed that he did not rest and went to the DCI headquarters to report the issue and was referred to the DCI offices in Starehe.
“Nothing has been done yet. We are hearing that the man was recently spotted in South Sudan,” explained Mr Mohammed.
Sources close to Mr Abdi told the Nation that the man is a Madrassa and they were shocked when they heard that he had disappeared with people’s money.
Supkem confirmed to the Nation that Mr Abdi and his agency were duly registered and accredited.
However, according to Supkem, Mr Abdi did not submit a list of names, payments or passports of prospective pilgrims for the 2019 Hajj.
But after learning that Mr Abdi had swindled people of their money in the name of Hajj, Supkem deregistered his agency.
“The council strongly condemns this kind of conduct from entities such as Mr Abdi and his agency, and will NOT tolerate the same moving forward. The supreme council will, therefore, continue to strengthen its systems and work with other relevant authorities to ensure that nobody suffers from the kind of dishonesty exhibited by Mr Abdi and his agency,” read Supkem’s statement.