Reverend Yakubu Pam, Executive Director of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, has stated that the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip will not impact this year’s journey to the Holy Land.
He assured the third batch of pilgrims who arrived in Abuja from various states on Monday that the first flight scheduled for Tuesday night will take place as planned.
Rev. Pam disclosed that the Federal Government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NCPC have been monitoring the situation in Israel, adding that a final decision on planned visit to Israel would be taken after three days’ tour of holy sites of the Old Testament era in Jordan.
He said, “We have faith but we are not replicating Daniel’s entry into the lion’s den; the Federal Government is monitoring the situation and we are in touch with Israeli authorities so we are quite optimistic.
“A private group of 70 Nigerian Christian Pilgrims just arrived Israel today (Monday) and a batch from Lagos state is returning aboard an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, the third and last batch for the year will leave on Tuesday night and arrive Jordan the following morning; thus far, there is no cause for anxieties and authorities in both Jordan and Israel are in touch with us.
“Those who genuinely feel some anxieties should note that the ongoing conflict is around Gaza in the very southern part of Israel but all the places that Christian pilgrims visit are in the northern parts of Israel; we now have clean records of no abscondment and pilgrims use the opportunity to collectively pray for Nigeria,” Pam stated.
He further announced that the Federal Government and authorities in both Israel and Jordan now emphatically confront the issue of absconding pilgrims.
Reverend Pam stated that such problems are now almost non-existent as any suspicious move by a Pilgrim results in immediate return to Nigeria, along with payment of fines by those who sign as sureties.
He urged all Christian Pilgrims to pray spiritedly for the peace and progress of Nigeria during the nine days of visits to Old Testament holy sites in Jordan and New Testament holy sites in Israel, adding that they must always reflect patriotism, forgiveness, generosity and other worthy virtues henceforth.
While also addressing the intending pilgrims, Mr. Sunny Ude who is NCPC’s Director of Mobilization, urged them to live out Christian virtues in practical terms, adding that behaviours such as negative comments against Nigeria or its government also reflects disregard for one’s family and the nation’s collective future.