Churches and Mosques to remain closed in Lagos State

The Lagos state government says churches and mosques in the state will remain closed despite the relax on the ban on worship centres by the federal government.

Speaking with journalists on Tuesday, the state commissioner for home affairs,Anofiu Elegushi, says reopening of worship centres would not be possible now because the state is the epicentre of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

The commissioner said the government had held several meetings with some religious leaders who agreed that worship centres should be closed until “the coast is clear”.

“Even before the pronouncement by the federal government, we have been having meetings with the religious leaders, we even had one with safety commission, looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses,” he said.

“We also had one with the leaders of the two faith 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 at the back immediately 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 in 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 state in achieving that pronouncement, so all states will have to look at the possibility of doing so in their respective states.”

He said the governor would come out with further directives on religious activities in the state.

“We all know Lagos is still having more figures, so definitely that will speak to our decision,” he said.

“We will call the two faith together and discuss the pronouncement and I can assure you that they themselves will tell us not to do it.”

Meanwhile, the federal government says despite the lifting of ban on religious gatherings, it is safer for people to worship at home.

The government had banned large gatherings and ordered suspension of conventional religious activities in April to check the spread of COVID-19.

But on Monday, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved that churches and mosques could reopen based on some guidelines.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the presidential task force on COVID-19, said it is safer for people to worship at home.

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