The Plateau Government is to, henceforth, arraign any pilgrim that absconds during religious trips.
Executive Secretary of the State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Rev. Fr. George Gorap, gave the warning yesterday in a chat with journalists in Jos.
“Henceforth, any pilgrim who absconds from the holy land in Israel would have his or her guarantor made to face the full wrath of the law as contained in the pilgrimage form,” he cautioned.
The clergy said the board would also penalise any person caught selling relevant documents, adding that measures had been put in place to check escape during pilgrimages.
Gorap went: “It is expected that Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem or Israel for December 2020 are to undergo robust screening to ascertain their eligibility.
“In 2018, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, sponsored 1,700 persons and one absconded. Last year, the state government again sponsored 1,200 persons and three escaped. This year, because of the challenges of COVID-19, we are yet to get any notice from the Israeli government.x
“However, we are preparing and Governor Simon Lalong has indicated interest to sponsor people for the pilgrimage. However, if we would have to, then all pilgrims from the state must provide guarantors before performing this important spiritual exercise this December.”
The cleric further said: “In Plateau, the state government is working hard to ensure that absconding while on pilgrimage becomes a thing of the past.”
He commended the governor for leading the way, noting that he had supported the highest number of pilgrims since 2018.
The ES equally commended Lalong for sustaining peace on the Plateau, urging him to sustain his developmental strides.
The Catholic priest also lauded Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, and the governor for “working to ensure that pilgrims would be airlifted from the Jos Airport in Heipang, Plateau State” to ensure their safety on return.