Noah Ebije, Kaduna and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
In a bid to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19, the Kaduna and Ondo state governments yesterday banned religious activities as part of efforts to restrict all large gatherings.
The Kaduna state government also asked Imams not to hold Friday’s Jummat service just as it said church services should be suspended, adding that Christian faithful should learn from the experience of many Christian-majority countries like Italy, France and Germany.
A statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, said that the administration is taking cue from the decision of the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam, not to hold such prayers in the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madina.
The statement further said, ‘’the Kaduna State government hereby directs that all daily congregational prayers should be suspended until the coronavirus situation is clearly contained.’’
“While no case of COVID-19 has been reported in the state so far, the government has a duty to work with all our leaders and residents of our state to jointly ensure that everything is done to reduce the chance of the disease taking root and spreading in the state.
“In many Muslim-majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, members of the public are encouraged to pray at home, and not congregate as is the practice in normal times”.
The statement further said that ‘’Pastors as well as congregants are expected to abide by public health advice and avoid gatherings in churches. Other means of worship and fellowship should be adopted in much smaller numbers of not more than 10 persons, for now.’’
Adekeye also said that ‘’public health expert advice is that large gatherings of more than 10 persons are not advisable at this point, and any assembly of more than 50 persons are therefore prohibited in Kaduna State until further notice.’’
“As part of the required containment measures, the state government has already announced the closure of all schools – all nursery and primary schools, secondary schools and all tertiary institutions effective Monday, 23rd March 2020.
“Accordingly, the state government has directed the immediately closure of the campuses of our KASU, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, College of Education and of Nursing and Midwifery for 30 days in the first instance,’’ he added.
The Special Adviser also said that ‘’social gatherings in parties, bars, restaurants, night clubs, public parks and such places are suspended until further notice.’’
The statement urged all citizens, including religious and community leaders, to do their duty in supporting these measures which will help in significantly protecting the larger society from the negative impacts of COVID-19.
Similarly, Ondo State government yesterday ordered an immediate suspension of all religious activities and programmes by churches and mosques in the state.
The State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu in a statement issued by the commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo also ordered that all public gatherings should be put on hold till further notice.
Governor Akeredolu said the state government took the decision to avoid the spread of corona virus disease. The statement reads; “crowds in all churches and mosques across the state must be regulated until further notice. For emphasis, Churches and Mosques with large crowds are advised strongly to break into more worship syndicates (services). This is to curtail excessive physical contacts.
“People should avoid the use of common cups and chalice in the case of Churches, for drinking. In this regard, it is advised that disposable cups must suffice, if at all.
“That the convocation ceremony of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa earlier scheduled for Saturday, 21st March, 2020 is postponed indefinitely.
“Where there are needs for clarifications on the closure of schools, all stakeholders and partners, including examination bodies as well as proprietors of private schools are enjoined to get in touch with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for such.
“While the government puts structures in place to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, it is pertinent that the citizenry takes more seriously, the above precautionary measures in addition to those enumerated by Mr. Governor in his broadcast to the State.”