Lagos Pastors, Imams fail to pledge social distancing

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By Benjamin Omoike

Following the recent announcement by the Federal Government that religious houses may soon reopen for worship, provided they follow prescribed guidelines, there are doubts that Lagos State will be adhering to the directive.

These doubts were expressed by Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Anofiu Elegushi, on Tuesday during the 2020 ministerial briefings, to mark the first anniversary of governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, at Alausa, Ikeja.

According to the Commissioner, though the Federal Government has allowed religious houses to reopen, each state government has the right to decide what works best for them.

He said several meetings had been held by the state government with religious leaders in the state, but none of the leaders gave assurances that they would be able to comply with the guidelines provided by the state government, such as maintaining the recommended number of worshippers, social distancing and the rest.

“Before pronouncement by the Federal Government, we have been having continuous meetings with religion leaders on the possibility of reopening religious houses. At the meetings, the possibility of reopening religious houses was put off by the leaders. They said they cannot take responsibility of having 50 worshippers.

“One of the Imams said if he’s leading prayers, he cannot be sure, or guarantee the number of people that will be at his back joining in the prayers, if they will be more than 20. So they ruled out totally the possibility of religious houses until they have a clear coast,” the Commissioner said.

He added: “Though the Federal Government mentioned reopening, but it did not rule out states deciding what is good for them. All states would look at possibility in their respective states. Lagos State is having more figures, which definitely will speak to our decision. However, the Incident Commander, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will give further directives.”

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