By Matthew Denis
More facts emerged Tuesday night on the reason, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman Kwara State Traditional Rulers Council, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufatau Gbadamosi Esuwoye, the Olomu of Omupo, Oba Adebayo Buhari, Elerin of Erin-Ile, Oba AbdulGaniyu Ajibola, Oba of Jebba, AbdulKadri Adebara, the Timi of Ede, Oba John Adetoyese Laoye, Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Rasheed Ayotunde, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Ganiyu Adekunle and one other monarch could not make the long trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the 2017 hajj exercise.
Anger ran high at Ilorin International Airport on Tuesday as the monarchs and several other passengers could not be airlifted to their destination by Medview Airline.
In a statement issued by Medview same day, the airline operator apologised to the disappointed passengers on Lagos-Ilorin-Abuja route, blaming bad weather for the reason the flight could not land at Ilorin Airport.
According to Medview, the operating aircraft had arrived the Ilorin airspace at the scheduled time but adverse weather conditions could not allow it land and based on air traffic control advice, the aircraft had to divert to Abuja.
“We continue to monitor the weather conditions in Ilorin and it was only visible later in the day and the flight finally made it.
“Medview Airline takes great measures to avoid conditions that will impact on safety of passengers and crew,” the statement read.
The airline said it was unfortunate that the adverse weather prevailed on a day highly revered traditional rulers and other dignitaries were billed to fly to Abuja enroute their various destinations.
“We sincerely regret the unfortunate incident and the inconveniences caused our esteemed passengers,” the airline lamented.
The nine traditional rulers were scheduled to embark on their journey to the holy land (Saudi Arabia) from Ilorin to Abuja where they are expected to connect an Ethiopian airline at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to Mecca by 2:00pm but couldn’t make the trip.
The nine monarchs all arrived the airport around 9:05am to board the airline and were accompanied by their entourage who endlessly sang their praises as they walked into the VIP lounge of the terminal building.
Though, the first aircraft for the Ilorin morning schedule, which was Overland Airways arrived the airport around 8:30am and departed exactly 8:57am to Abuja, this medium gathered from the Air Traffic Control tower at the airport that Medview morning flight also arrived the Ilorin airspace trying to land around 8:50am but couldn’t because of bad weather.
The traditional rulers were however informed by the staff at the Expected Time of Arrival (ETA) desk, that the aircraft will return to the airport in four hours hence they waited till 1pm but they later gave up the hope when an Air Force aircraft landed before taking off around 1:30pm.
As soon as the Air Force aircraft departed the airport, the entourage of the monarchs engaged in a shouting match with officials of Medview asking why ‘the same bad weather had not prevented other aircrafts from landing and taking off.’
Speaking with one of the passengers, Engr. Abdullahi Maikano said, “Though it’s unfortunate that there is bad weather and the action is for our safety but we saw Overland and an Air Force aircraft landing during same period.”
Reacting to the incident, the spokesperson of the Emir, who is also the Magaji Nda of Ilorin, Alhaji Solihu Woru said, “The Emir has sponsored about 12 Muslim faithful to the holy land this year and he deemed it fit to perform the exercise too but was prevented by the weather, which is neither his fault nor that of the airline.
“The Emir was ready to proceed to Mecca and all his chiefs escorted him to the airport but the climate change stopped the trip. It is Allah’s destiny as even in Islamic injunctions when a journey is not palatable, we have no choice than to abort it.”