For Pastor Yemi Omoniyi and Omolola Mafa, Easter Sunday of March 27 would have been one of the most memorable days in their lives. That was the day Seun Mafa Omoniyi, the younger brother to the clergyman and son of Omolola Mafa got wedded to his heartthrob in the United States where they both resided.
All arrangements for Omoniyi and Mafa to travel to the United States and be part of the happy occasion had been concluded, or so they thought, until they got to the airport on March 23 only to be turned back by the airline, Emirates Airlines. The travel agency, Amypar Travels & Tours Limited, had booked a ticket for the groom’s mother as Omolola Mafa Omoniyi, which contradicts the name on her international passport, Omolola Mafa.
They were traumatized but still nursed the hope of making the journey the following day after the error had been rectified. But that hope was dashed as the travel agency was nonchalant about their plight.
A family member of the Omoniyis who was pained that the two missed such an important occasion because of the inefficiency of the travel agent, narrated the plight of the older Omoniyi and their mother to Consumer Life Nigeria (CLN) recently. “Pastor Yemi Omoniyi and his mother Omolola Mafa booked a flight with Emirates Airline to the United States to attend the wedding of Seun Mafa Omoniyi, a younger brother of the pastor and son of Omolola Mafa.”
According to the family member, “The wedding was scheduled for March 27, 2016, which was Easter Sunday while Saturday, March 26, was set aside for the traditional wedding. All the traditional attires for the traditional wedding were made in Nigeria and they were part of the marriage items the pastor and Mafa were expected to take along with them on the journey.”
On what then went wrong, she had this to say: “Pastor Omoniyi contacted Amypar Travels & Tours Limited, Akowonjo, Egbeda in Lagos State and then sent their names to the agency’s managing director, Patricia Amuwa Ekhaguere through SMS. Omolola’s full name was sent as Omolola Mafa as contained in her passport but the agency entered her name on the ticket booked as Omolola Mafa Omoniyi. This mistake was not noticed until they got to the airport on Wednesday, March 23.
“My family members were not initially very upset with Ekhaguere because they reasoned that she might have thought all of them have the same surname, Omoniyi. Pastor Omoniyi gave her a call from the airport with the hope that she would address the problem immediately so that they could travel the following day. But the way she handled the problem was what actually got all of us upset.
“Initially she denied being the cause of their predicament, arguing that the name she used was what was sent to her. Fortunately Pastor Omoniyi saved the text message and she was referred to it. When she realized she was at fault she stopped arguing. She then advised them to pay $100 at the airport to effect the correction but when they inquired, they were informed that government has since stopped such practice due to the security challenges confronting the nation.
“Any hope of travelling the following day was again truncated by Ekhuguere’s poor customer care services. She left for a church programmed and handed the matter to a subordinate to address. The person repeated the same mistake by adding Omoniyi to Omolola’s name. Eventually they could not travel for the wedding. They were both devastated and the groom’s mother remained inconsolable knowing that she won’t be there at her son’s happiest day and worse still she could not deliver the marriage items, including the clothes for the traditional wedding, to them.
“On March 27, the day of the wedding, Pastor Omoniyi again called Ekhaguere to effect the correction and shift their travel day to Tuesday, March 29 so that they could at least be there on time to be part of the thanksgiving service scheduled for April 3, 2016. She told him that she was just returning from the church camp and would not be available to book the flight as requested. Rather she informed her aggrieved customers that they should wait till Thursday, March 31.”
Omoniyi and Mafa who could no longer bear the frustration and Ekhuguere’s poor customer service had to purchase new tickets through another travel agency to proceed on the planned journey.
When CLN visited the address of the travel agency to get Ekhuguere’s side of the story, there was no signboard indicating the existence of any travel agency in the premises designated as residential block of flats. On enquiry, our correspondent was introduced to a teenager who confirmed that Ekhuguere was her mother and managing director of Amypar Travels & Tours Limited, adding that she operates from her home.
Her teenage daughter then went in to inform her about the presence of our correspondent. After waiting for some time under the scorching sun without anyone coming out to meet her, she left to attend to other editorial matters.
Consumer Life Nigeria has, however, advised the aggrieved customers of Amypar Travels & Tours Limited to file their complaint through the Directorate of Consumer Protection of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) or the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) for prompt redress.