By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) will establish pilgrims centres in Abuja and five others cities next year.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Rev. Tor Uja, said on Saturday in Abuja they would start setting up the centres in March 2016.
He was at NCPC’s maiden security training and orientation for pilgrimage officers and security team.
He said that the centres would ensure adequate screening of intending pilgrims, create opportunities for them to enhance spiritual intensity and have adequate information about pilgrimage.
Uja decried the current process of screening where intending pilgrims were screened at the airport, at the point of departure.
He said that the process was largely responsible for incidents of ill-health and defection.
He said that the 30 minutes orientation and screening inside the airport was not enough for proper screening and scrutiny of pilgrims, explaining that screening was for health and security reasons.
According to him, from 2017, pilgrims will no longer be screened at the airports, because the commission will set up selected locations where pilgrims will be camped and screened ahead of travelling.
“In 2017, we are going to set up a pilgrimage heritage centre here in Abuja and the goal will be to camp all pilgrims in that centre for at least three days before they travel out on pilgrimage.
“That will be the time for preparations, screening, orientation and the major prayer and instructions that will be offered to all pilgrims.
“Every pilgrim will be expected as a matter of course to participate in that exercise and anyone who does not will be disqualified at that point.
“Over the years, we do a-30 minute orientation inside the airport and it is also at the airport that we begin to distribute other things, which is clumsy and inappropriate,” he said.
Uja disclosed that the process for the acquisition of land for the centre in Abuja would be completed in March, 2017 and that work would commence there immediatley.
He said that Bank of Agriculture and the private sector would be involved in the project, adding that farming would be part of it.
He called on the private sector to support pilgrimage and the commission to enable it deliver the benefit of pilgrimage to the country. (NAN)