NCPC Executive Secretary, Mr. John Kennedy Okpara
By Damilola Oyedele
The Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission has allayed fears and concerns raised over the safety of pilgrims in the ongoing 2012 pilgrimage in the light of the conflict between Israel and Gaza.
Although a ceasefire is in place, the Commission said it was working with the Nigerian Embassy in Tel-Aviv and Israeli security agencies to ensure that the pilgrims are not endangered in any form.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja, Friday, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Okpara said visits to Sinai and holy sites located in Palestine were suspended while the hostilities lasted.
He however noted that the commission would wait a while before resuming visits of the holy sites located in Palestine such as Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus.
"Let me state clearly that none of our people has been a victim of the circumstances. So far we have airlifted over 5000 pilgrims and 4000 have concluded the exercise and have been brought back," Okpara said.
On rumours of pilgrims absconding, the ES said it was too early to conclude that any pilgrim absconded.
He explained that some pilgrims decide to go and visit their relatives who live in Israel. Such pilgrims, he said, usually show up at the airport as soon as the return airlifting commences.
"With Israel's security network, it is almost impossible to abscond and disappear because it not a big country like America," he said.