When Abdi Noor Hassan known as Qoriyow wanted to hoodwink unsuspecting elders and other pilgrims he allegedly conned of a lifetime’s journey and 12 million shillings, he took them to the offices of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) and showed the victims his registration certificate and a list of pilgrims allocated to him by Supkem. The list was pinned to the wall of the Supkem office. SUPKEM is the umbrella body that vets and approves Hajj agents. These agents receive money from the pilgrims and process visas and all other requirements to travel to Makka for the annual Hajj. This is the most important journey a Muslim will make in his or her lifetime. 30 elders will now miss a lifetime opportunity because SUPKEM failed in its fundamental duty to safeguard Pilgrims’ money. The Pilgrims not only lost the opportunity to travel but all their savings too. What may have helped Qoriyow carry out this action may never be known but SUPKEM has a case to answer not only to the 30 victims but to all Muslims in the country.
Conflict of Interest
The process of vetting and approving Hajj agents is murky. At least 70% of SUPKEM officials double as Hajj agents. This is a challenge and a gross conflict of interest. It is also a loophole any fraudster could use to dupe unsuspecting pilgrims. SUPKEM has developed a casual approach to vetting agents and this may enable many undesirables go through the sieve when registering and approving agents to handle Pilgrim’s affairs. It appears it does not have control over its officials who are suspected to sub-contract others who may not have the financial and moral capability to undertake the task. The vetting process lacks merit and SUPKEM appears not to be up to the task.
SUPKEM has not explained how Qoriyow, who is now on the run from the authorities, was approved by them. SUPKEM is a shadow of its former self and while some of its leaders are of repute and stature, it has been punching much below its weight for quite a long time. This must be a wake up call for the organization if it still wants to enjoy support of the Muslims across the country.