Pilgrimage: FG, Israeli govt assures of safety, security




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The Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Jones ArogbofaABUJA – The Federal Government and its Israeli counterpart on Sunday assured this year’s intending `family pilgrims’ to Israel of their safety and welfare.

The assurances were given by of both countries while addressing the pilgrims at the inauguration of the 2014 `Family Pilgrimage’ at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Jones Arogbofa, said the Federal Government was touch with the authorities in Israel, stressing that there was no need to entertain any fear.

He said the Israeli government had demonstrated sufficient capacity to contain the crisis and has already assured the federal government of the safety of its citizens in the holy land.

According to Arogbofa, prayers and intense communion with God should pre-occupy the minds and schedule of the pilgrims while in the holy land, because their security would be taken care of.

He urged the pilgrims to be steadfast in their prayers for their leaders and for peace in their various families, in Nigeria and the entire world.

“This exercise provides you with the rare opportunity to commune with God, correct the challenges you face in your families and communities because our land is sick today and we need healing.

“I want each of you to see this family pilgrimage as an opportunity to bring Christ closer to your families, is not a jamboree,’’ he said.

He lauded the efforts of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) for its creativity in making pilgrimage a household among the Christian community in the country.

In the same vein, Mr John-Kennedy Opara, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, urged the intending pilgrims not to entertain any fear, saying adequate security arrangement had been made for their well being in Israel.

He said officials of both countries have studied the situation on ground and are optimistic that the safety of the pilgrims would be guaranteed throughout their stay in Israel.

“We have made adequate arrangements for our pilgrims, everything is okay now, in I have the assurances of the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria that all shall be well with our pilgrims.
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“All I want to tell our pilgrims is not to be afraid, they should just obey all instructions given to them by the authorities in Israel,’’ he said.

Opara, however, said pilgrims would not be allowed to visit holy sites around Bethlehem and other locations designated to be unsafe for tourists.

On his part, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Uriel Palti, said Israel was committed to the safety and security of all pilgrims visiting the country.

Palti said Nigeria’s participation in the 2014 family pilgrimage in spite of the Gaza conflict was a practical demonstration of the Nigerian government’s solidarity with the Israeli government.

He expressed his country’s gratitude to Nigeria for the unwavering faith in Israel’s ability to handle its challenges amidst condemnation by a section of the international community.

“Today you are the heroes of the day; you have shown solidarity with the people and the State of Israel in these times.

“I assure you, you will be safe in Israel, you are going to enjoy your stay in Israel and return home to your families safely,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the first batch of the pilgrims comprised 180 men, and children from Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

NAN also reports that than 500 Nigerians have been scheduled to participate in the second edition of the `Family Pilgrimage’.

NAN recalls that over 300 families participated in the maiden edition of the `Family Pilgrimage’ in Aug. 2013. (NAN)[eap_ad_3]