By Desmond Ejibas
Port Harcourt, Nov. 6, 2020 The Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) says it has concluded plans to begin transportation of pilgrims for the 2020 pilgrimage to Israel on Dec. 13.
Dr Yakubu Pam, the Executive Secretary, NCPC announced this on Friday in a meeting with officials of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
Represented by Mr Amos Yohanna, the Director of Operations, NCPC, Pam said that intending pilgrims from Rivers and environs would be among the first batch to be transported to Jerusalem.
“So, we came here to discuss with management of the Port Harcourt International Airport just as we are planning to commence the 2020 pilgrimage on Dec. 13.
“We are already in touch with all stakeholders to ensure that we have seamless exercise, understanding that 2020 exercise will be quite different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Basically, we are here to see how both agencies can cooperate and ensure that pilgrims are kept safe observing the Federal Government’s protocol on COVID-19,” he said.
Pam said that the commission was already in partnership with the Israeli authorities and had put in place measures to ensure a successful transportation of pilgrims to the Holy Land.
“We are aware that one of the restrictions put in place by the government is that non passengers are not allowed inside the airport.
“But we are concerned that some of the pilgrims are travelling out of the country for the first time, and so they need assistance.
“So, we are meeting with the airport authorities to allow few of our personnel inside the airport to assist pilgrims travelling out of the country for the first time,” he said.
Mr Felix Akinbinu, Manager of the Port Harcourt International Airport assured the NCPC delegation of full cooperation after it secured approval of the Federal Government to use the facility.
He pointed out that FAAN had the resources, manpower and equipment needed to handle special flights.
“We pray that we get signal to commence international flights, but if we don’t, we also have manpower on ground to attend to special flights for pilgrims.
“However, we expect pilgrims to be law abiding and submit themselves to all checks inside the terminal building,” he added.