ABUJA – The first batch of 117 Nigerians who participated in the 2014 seven-day Family Pilgrimage to Israel, have returned home, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
The pilgrims departed Abuja on Aug. 24 amidst concerns of the unrest between Israel and Gaza.
Mr John-Kennedy Opara, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), who addressed the pilgrims on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, said the success of the exercise showed that peace had returned to Israel.
“I want to state here that the success of the family pilgrimage is an indication that peace has finally returned to the holy land.
“I must add that the peace we are talking about in Israel is as a result of the prayers offered by Nigerians, because we prayed for peace and today peace is gradually returning to Israel.
“It also entails that we can now confidently go on with our plans for the regular pilgrimage exercise from October to December.” [eap_ad_1] According to him, arrangements are at an advanced stage for the commencement of the exercise.
On his part, Rev Zion Ibenye, the Federal Commissioner representing the South-East on the board of the NCPC, affirmed that relative peace had returned to Israel.
He said with the successful completion of the exercise, the board of the commission would shift its focus on preparations for the regular pilgrimage.
Ibenye said the family pilgrimage was a huge success in spite of the initial security concerns raised.
Mr Zingak Gomwalk, who participated with his family, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise.
He said the entire programme was very exciting and did not reflect the initial concerns about security and other logistics.
“The exercise was fulfilling spiritually, morally and in every aspect that one can think of; it is most rewarding for my family and I urge other families to take advantage of this opportunity,’’ he said.
The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Uriel Palti, while inaugurating the exercise in Abuja on Aug. 24, said the safety of the pilgrims in Israel was guaranteed.
The commission had earlier postponed the exercise for security reasons. (NAN)