LAGOS, Kaduna, Oyo and Kwara states are not about to unlock religious centres in spite of the window for reopening provided by the Federal Government.
Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs Prince Anofiu Elegushi said as a result of disagreement at a meeting of religious leaders with the government, the reopening of religious centres was put in abeyance.
‘’We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, the possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.
‘’They claimed that they cannot take such responsibility of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them. Like an Imam said he doesn’t know what is going on behind him whenever he is leading a prayer. He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back, he is not going to take responsibility for their presence.
‘’So, the meeting, we ruled out in totality the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so. The Federal Government mentioned it, but it never ruled out the states in achieving that pronouncement, so all states will have to look at the possibility of doing so in their respective states.
‘’We all know Lagos is still having more figures.”
The statement said: “As announced last week, relevant government agencies will engage business, community, and religious leaders to discuss and agree on the protocols for the safe opening of businesses and market, and resumption of congregational worship.
“Government has started engagements with business leaders, and began receiving recommendations from some religious leaders on the subject of safe re-opening of places of worship. However, these consultations have not been concluded.
“Until these consultations result in a formal announcement authorising businesses, markets and places of worship to reopen, it will be a violation of subsisting Quarantine Orders to reopen any unauthorised facility, market or places of worship or to conduct congregational worship of any sort. Places of worship in Kaduna State were not closed by the Federal Government.The decision to close places of worship in Kaduna State was taken and enforced in March 2020 by the state government as part of the proclamation of the Quarantine Orders in the state.
“Kaduna State has its own well-articulated roadmap for reopening, and this was published last week as a public document for the views and inputs of the citizens of the State. That is why when it extended the Quarantine Orders by two weeks on 26th May 2020, it also announced steps to ease some of the restrictions. These included increasing lockdown-free days to three and allowing approved businesses and facilities to open on those three days.
Kwara Commissioner for Health Dr Raji AbdulRazaq said the state had not lifted ban on religious activities.
AbdulRazaq who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin, said the Federal Government hinted on lifting ban on religious activities, and gave modalities to the states on how best to go about it.
He added that the state government would deliberate and come out with what was best to protect the people.
The commissioner warned that the government had not lifted any ban and no religious house should disregard the directives on social distancing.
Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force led by Governor Seyi Makinde said it is yet to relax the ban on religious activities and the curfew.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde said the decision was reached after a meeting of the Task Force.
Makinde said: “The Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force wishes to alert the public that the ban on religious gathering remains in force in the state. The 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew earlier imposed on the state as a result of the ravaging pandemic, will also remain in force until further notice.
“This is because the Task Force is awaiting a risk, situation analysis report by a team of experts earlier commissioned to do so.
“The report is expected at the end of the week and it is only after the report has been analysed by the Task Force that it can be in a position to make further clarifications.
“The Task Force will always make its decisions in relation to the behavioral patterns of the novel Coronavirus in its domain, relying on science, logic and data.
“We assure residents that the state is leaving no stone unturned in curtailing the spread of the dreaded virus.”