In one fell swoop, four states in the North – Borno, Gombe, Adamawa and Zamfara – on Thursday reopened Mosques and Churches. It was a major easing of the lockdown imposed to curb Coronavirus spread. The Federal Government frowned at the situation having not been consulted as expected, in line with the COVID-19 protocol. Besides, the Federal Government believes that the situation of the virus spread had not reached the stage of lowering the guard. Coronavirus cases in the country last night surpassed the 5,000 mark, with close to 200 deaths recorded. The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Control has resolved to engage with the governors. Minister for Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “We are always working together with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF). We believe that the governors won’t do anything that will put in jeopardy all we have achieved in the last few weeks of lockdown. So, I think it is better that we continue the engagement and I am sure that the chairman of the taskforce who is constantly in touch with the governments will take up this matter and we hope that he will be able to give a feedback.” Gombe State Governor Muhammadu Yahaya said places of worship could be opened, only when members wear face masks, keep social and physical distance, as well as maintain regular hands washing and the use of hand sanitizers. Yahaya said members of aid groups in Mosques and the Boys Brigade in Churches would be trained to ensure full compliance and the enforcement of the protective measures. He warned that any violation of the measures would force him to reverse the decision to ease the lockdown, because “he would not afford to compromise the health of the people of the state”. The Adamawa State Government also as lifted the ban on religious congregations with immediate effect. Press Secretary to governor, Mr. Humwashi Wonosikou, in a statement said: “Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has eased the restriction on worship places and social gatherings earlier imposed on the state, following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. “Churches, Mosques and the international cattle markets under lockdown can now reopen.” The Borno state government has also announced an indefinite suspension of lockdown for COVID-19. The government also approved religious gathering in strict adherence with social distancing and use of facemasks. Umar Kadafur, said the state has recorded significant progress in the fight against COVID-19 over the last three weeks The Deputy governor, who is also the COVID-19 Response Committee Chairman in the state disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday. According to him, “All churches shall conduct church services as recommended by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno Chapter in strict adherence with social distancing and use of facemasks. “The ban on the sales and consumption of liquor and other intoxicating substances is still in force. Defaulters will be dealt with severely in accordance with the liquor law,” he said. Bello Matawalle also lifted the ban on congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches. Matawalle, in a radio broadcast, said: “I want to commend the people of the state for supporting government in our effort to frustrate the spread of coronavirus in our dear state by complying with the lockdown orders. “In the light of this, therefore, we are suspending restrictions on congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches while appealing to people not to converge in large numbers at the same time.” he said. The governor said urged the people to continue to observe social distancing when they meet as well as use face masks to prevent spread of the virus.
FG Frowns As States Reopen Mosques, Churches
May 16, 2020