Akin Akande, Abuja
As the Federal Capital Territory contingent for 2013 Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem is preparing for the holy trip, the FCT Christian Pilgrim Welfare Board has disqualified 15 intending pilgrims out the over 1500 screened for the exercise.
This was as another 485 pilgrims out of those screened would also not make the trip due to their inability to pay for the exercise.
According to the leader of the FCT delegates to Jerusalem for the year 2013, Senator Philip Aduda, who briefed journalists in Abuja on Monday, those who were disqualified lost their places due to issues as underage, ill health and other reasons.
“Yes, there are age limit for those are to go to Israel, there are checks and balances, mechanisms and measures are being put in place to ensure that people travel and come back,” he said.
“The 485 were not disqualified, they may not have the resources to travel” he said.
Speaking shortly after his team was inaugurated by the FCT Minister of State, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Aduda disclosed that the stage was set for the pilgrimage to begin soon having concluded all the preparatory activities.
He said that group visas were being processed for all intending pilgrims adding that the airlifting to the holy land would be done in batches by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, which according to him has statutory responsibility for airlifting.
While assuring that appropriate measures had been put in place to ensure that no pilgrim abscond from the trip, Senator Aduda disclosed that security arrangements have been made in conjunction with Israeli authorities and Nigerian Embassy in Israel.
His words: “We have put in place, very serious measures that are so strict for abscondment. Deportation is part of punishment for anybody that absconds while Israeli government will arrest and torture such a pilgrim.”