The Chairman, Abia Pilgrims Welfare Board, Rev. Ugochukwu Ezuoke, says That the board has introduced fresh measures to check abscondments by pilgrims during this year’s pilgrimage.

Ezuoke said this when he briefed newsmen in Umuahia on preparations by the board to organise a hitch-free 2017 pilgrimage.

“The board has mapped out stringent measures to scrutinise intending pilgrims to avoid abscondment being experienced amongst pilgrims.

“There is no need for any pilgrim to abscond in the holy land on the premise of searching for greener pastures outside Nigeria.

“Economic recession is not peculiar to Nigeria, the whole world is hit by the phenomenon,’’ he said.

He urged intending pilgrims to understand that pilgrimage was a platform for Christians to uplift their spiritual lives and increase their faith in God.

Ezuoke admonished them to use the solemn opportunity to pray for their spiritual growth and the nation’s political and economic transformation.

“The holy pilgrimage as we know, provides good opportunity for Christians to fulfil a very important desire.

“The desire to visit Israel is to see the place where Jesus Christ was born, where he grew up, died and resurrected from the dead and from where he ascended into heaven,’’ he added.

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He gave assured that the screening of applicants would be thorough and devoid of sentiments.