Tel Aviv - Mr John-Kennedy Okpara, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), said on Tuesday that about 15 000 Christians were expected to participate in the 2012 pilgrimage.
Okpara said this on Tuesday in Tel Aviv at a meeting between the Federal Government delegation and the ground handlers of Nigerian pilgrims.
He said that more than 11 000 pilgrims out of the number had visited Israel so far while more were being expected.
"This year’s pilgrimage started in October and so far, we have had 36 rotations. As at Tuesday, 11,060 pilgrims have visited Israel and more are being expected.
"No fewer than 638 pilgrims have also visited Rome and Greece, 16 states have so far participated in this year’s pilgrimage."
Okpara noted that 2012 Christian pilgrimage would end on Dec. 24, following a presidential directive that the pilgrimage should not spill over to the following year.
According to him, no death has been recorded for the year and there are minimal visa problems.
The NCPC boss said that a unique feature of 2012 pilgrimage was the space given to aged people who were above 70 which was not the practice previously.
"They are however expected to come with an aide and the commission assigns experienced handlers for such cases."
He said that the visit to Mount Sanai had been suspended because of security reports which were not favourable.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), urged pilgrims to remember that the essence of pilgrimage was for spiritual uplift and not for tourism.
Oritsejafor urged the Israeli authorities to reciprocate Nigeria’s love for Israel by always making the pilgrims’ stay in the Holy land worthwhile.