Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, on Thursday said November/December pilgrimage will hold once borders are opened.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum/sensitisation, he urged those who intend to travel for the 2020 general pilgrimage to obtain their forms and make payments.
He assured those who paid for the Easter pilgrimage but could not travel due to the coronavirus pandemic that their money is safe.
He said since it would be on first come first served basis, “it is better to leave your money with the state government”.
The commissioner urged Christians to continue to take precautions as coronavirus is very real.
He said the pandemic is not an avenue for the government to steal money, as some erroneously believe.
“We had to tell those who could not go in April why they could not go, and to assure them that they will go in November/December if Israel will give them permission to come,” he told reporters.
Elegushi explained at the event that the pandemic forced the cancellation of the Easter exercise.
“The authorities in the Holy lands (Isreal and Rome) had to temporarily close their borders to pilgrims until further notice.
“Let me allay your fears that the 2020 pilgrimage exercise will not hold.
“I can confidently assure you that as soon as the curve of this pandemic is flattened and the Holy lands unlock their borders, we will airlift the November/December 2020 intending pilgrims by the special grace of God.
“We are hoping that the 2020 general pilgrimage will hold.
“Therefore, we encourage those who have already subscribed to be rest assured that their funds are safe and secured with the Lagos State Government.”
He praised Christians for complying with the directive not to open worship centres and urged them to continue to observe COVID-19 prevention guidelines, such as frequent hand washing, maintaining social distancing and regular use of facemasks.
Head of Special Duties at the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) apologised to those who were informed late that they had been denied a visa for the last pilgrimage.
He explained that sometimes the visa denial appeal process takes time, but assured that the Commission would begin the processes earlier this year to prevent a recurrence.
“We appeal visa denials, and sometimes we get to know the outcome on the eve of departure. We apologise for the short gap between the time your visa came out and your being informed. We assure you that it won’t happen again,” he said.
Secretary, Lagos State Christian Board, Mrs Florence Gbafe, said the event was organised to keep intending pilgrims abreast of developments.