The Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) on Friday began the screening of all intending pilgrims from Gombe state, and warned against absconding from the Holy Land.
The Federal Commissioner on the NCPC board, North-east zone, Rev. Musa Jida, in an interview with newsmen in Gombe, said the exercise was to ascertain who was qualified to embark on pilgrimage.
Jida said the screening was to specifically assess the health status of the intending pilgrims as well as to ensure that those going represented the country in good light.
“We need to have interactions and discussions that will give us an idea of who we are taking to the Holy Land. It is imperative to demand that all intending pilgrims have sound minds and commitment to improve themselves, learn and bring back lessons that will improve the country,” he said.
He said Bauchi and Gombe were the only states in the zone that had submitted their list, adding that the total number of intending pilgrims from both states were not less than 300.
Addressing the intending pilgrims, the director of special duties, NCPC Directorate Headquarters, Mr. Peter Okhueleigbe, said the essence of pilgrimage was not to make money and, therefore, warned against any attempts at absconding.
“This journey is an avenue to go and pray and come back and not an avenue to go and make money or abscond,” he said.
The executive secretary of the state Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr. Ishaya Karu, said the exercise was not to disqualify anyone but to ensure that all requirements, particularly health, were met.
He said 75 intending pilgrims were expected from Gombe state to visit the Holy site in Jordan, adding that the state government had approved 70, while five were self-sponsored.
He said as soon as the screening was concluded, a date would be fixed by the NCPC and communicated to the intending pilgrims.