NCPC reads riot act to pilgrims as three Enugu pilgrims abscond in Israel
The Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) said, yesterday, that it would, henceforth, arrest and imprison guarantors of pilgrims who abscond from the holy land until they are found and brought back to the country.
It also stated that efforts are on to arrest pilgrims from Enugu state who absconded from the holy land, promising that when found, would be made to serve prison terms in Israel as they would be treated as criminals.
Executive Secretary, NCPC, Rev. Yakubu Pam, who stated this, while addressing Enugu contingent, participating in this year’s pilgrimage in the holy land, expressed displeasure over the abscondment of some members of the contingent.
Three members of over 270 contingents that left the state last Thursday eloped few days on arriving the state of Israel, thereby forcing intensification of security around the hotels and areas being visited by the pilgrims in the holy land. The abscondees include two women and a man.
Pam had, on receiving the information about the development, yesterday, rushed to the holy land where he held an emergency session with the pilgrims.
Addressing the pilgrims at Tabar hotel, he stated that the commission would not allow the development to be swept under the carpet, insisting that it was a slap on the image of the country.
He added that the culprits have smeared the image and good intentions of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who sponsored the trip purposely for prayers and personal encounter with God.
He said: “ I am highly disappointed. Nigerians are not happy that some are running away and it is not giving us a good image.
Nasarawa pilgrims and others have come here and did not get any negative report. I don’t know why they are running. We are in search of those who did. We will apprehend them. If they are caught, they would spend time in prison here. I am angry. We would comb homes in this place and every corner through the security to fish them out.
“What is wrong with us? Must we continue this way? I am not happy. I am the saddest person in this place. Whoever has gone, those who signed their surety will be arrested at home. They must be kept in prison until we bring back those who have run.”
He stated that he would meet with the Minister of Interior on Thursday to intensify measures on their possible arrest, stressing that Nigerians must learn to respect rules at all times.
Pam, who said that it was a crime for people to use a trip to the holy land to elope, insisted that it would not derail the purpose of pilgrimage.