By Akin Akande, Abuja
Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Olajumoke Akinjide, yesterday vowed to investigate the circumstances that led to the exclusion of some intending Pilgrims in FCT for the last year’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Akinjide who stated this while receiving the report of the 2012 Christian Pilgrimage exercise which also marked the flag-off of the 2013 Christian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in her office in Abuja, insisted that government will not allow any one get away with such misdeed.
ThePost gathered that names of many approved pilgrims for last years’ holy journey were substituted for candidates who bribed their way through some officials of the FCT Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board.
Some aggrieved Pilgrims who were affected in the alleged under- the -table -deal protested to the Minister, demanding the release of their international passports submitted to the Board since July 2012.
The protesters alleged that officials of the Board collected gratification from some other persons to facilitate their air- lift to Jerusalem, claiming that such individuals were not part of the original list approved by government and did not also participate in the orientation exercise for intending pilgrims.
According to a lady who was also part of those who were denied the right to travel to the holy land but refused to disclose her identify for fear of victimization, said the Board kept deceiving them that they were going to be airlifted till the end of the pilgrimage for 2012.
The Minister had while reviewing the report of the activities of the Board, urged it to intensify effort on education and sensitization of intending pilgrims, with the view to check the lapses in the 2012 pilgrimage exercise.
She also tasked the Board to consider the decentralization of the processes to Area Councils, employment of temporary staff among other issues that would ensure successful conduct of Christian pilgrimage.
Akinjide also expressing concern over the repeated incidences of overload of luggage challenged the Board to put in place punitive measures including imposition of fine on any pilgrim that violate the order.
Earlier, Leader FCT delegation for year 2012 Pilgrimage, Senator Phillip Aduda, noted that 977 FCT pilgrims who participated in the 2012 Christian pilgrimage to the Holy land were airlifted in five batches to Israel, Israel/Rome and Israel/Greece respectively.
Aduda who was represented by Dr. Lazarus Gaza, Director of the FCT Christian Welfare Board disclosed that all the pilgrims that participated in the exercise, returned back to Nigeria without any Pilgrim absconding wile in the holy land.
He also disclosed that no case of death due to accident in air, on the road or at Mount Sinai was recorded.
His words: “Some of the challenges observed include “the FCT pilgrims and those from others were not taken to Holy sites located in Egypt and West Bank due to war situation between the State of Israel and Hamas”.