The Lagos state government, in agreement with religious leaders, has banned all religious congregational service of over 50 worshippers as part of concerted efforts to contain the unprecedented devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing globally. The decision was reached after a meeting between the state government and religious bodies which comprised of members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Muslim leaders.
Reading a statement after the meeting which held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, the state Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi said the groups agreed that all large religious gathering of over 50 people should be suspended immediately. He said the suspension would last for four weeks, with a necessary review carried out if need be.
He also announced that a 15-member committee comprises representatives of Muslims and Christians in the State has been set up to ensure the enforcement of the ban. Explaining why the figure was pegged at 50, the Commissioner said it would be easier to trace 50 people .
“We hereby agree we should suspend all religious congregation that is over 50 within the state for four weeks. While the constitution allows for freedom of association and worship, we are of the opinion that we should exercise our rights with extreme caution so as to avoid contacting and spreading of this disease.
We hereby appeal to you to please pay close attention to people coming into our places of worship, anyone found showing symptoms of this disease should immediate be isolated and reported to the appropriate authorities.
We should put in place measures that will ensure cleanliness of our environment bearing in mind that, cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Aside our normal ablutions, our worshippers should be encouraged to make use of hand sanitizers, avoid bodily contacts as much as possible and ensure safety measures in and around their places of abode.”
Speaking on the ban, the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla, said the move is commendable and urged all Muslim leaders to abide by the decision and to also make personal hygiene a priority.
The CAN Chairman, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola on the other hand, said the nation was at a critical point, stressing that since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Christians had been praying.
“We are at a critical moment in Nigeria, since we heard this, we have been praying. We have listened carefully to one another, particularly the government. The responsibility of every government is to protect the lives of the people.
We must be proactive and take preventive measures. It is no longer the issue of religion but survival. We are going to accelerate the education of our people. We must listen to the instruction of the government and take the instruction seriously. We agree with the action of the government”
Lagos recorded four new cases of Coronavirus in the state yesterday March 18th.