Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has directed its members and other Muslim faithful to strictly comply with the directive of the Federal Government as regards large social and religious gatherings, as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.
The Council justified the directive with some verses in the Holy Qur’an which discouraged Muslims from traveling to locations that had epidemic outbreak, and those already in such places to restrict their movement to avoid spreading the virus to other unaffected places.
NSCIA Deputy Secretary General, Prof. Salisu Shehu, who briefed journalists on the preparedness of Muslims to the outbreak of pandemic, in Abuja, on Thursday, urged Mosques and Islamic centres to strongly discourage members from attending any activities, in the event of confirmed emergence of the infection in several figures, even if they are only experiencing mild symptoms.
He said: “It’s very likely that governments and appropriate agencies would start putting
social distancing measures in place very soon, depending on the severity of the
situation. This could mean that major public gatherings would be closed.
“This will inevitably have a significant impact on the Muslim communities, specifically our Mosques, schools, study groups, madrasas and Islamic centres, especially with Ramadan just few weeks away.
“In the event of such restrictions, we emphatically urge all Muslims to comply fully with the measures that are in the public interest of all. Should it also become necessary to suspend congregational prayers in the Mosques, the caller to prayer (Mu’adhdhin) will announce during the Call to Prayer (adhan) that people should pray in their dwellings.”
There are indications that several big Mosques in Abuja may not hold a low key Friday Jummat prayer, as against the usual gathering of large number of Muslim faithful.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in its latest Covid-19 advisory guidelines that the current situation of coronavirus in Nigeria does not warrant a total shutdown of daily activities including schools.
It, however, urged Nigerians to access and disseminate already published guidelines for safe gatherings to ensure preventive measures during such convergence.
It said: “If there is sustained community transmission in Nigeria, various additional measures may be instituted. But for now, schools are advised to circulate NCDC’s public health advisory and related materials on COVID-19 to staff, students and parents.
“Corporations are also advised to circulate NCDC’s public health advisory and related materials on COVID-19 to all employees, clients and visitors, and also provide facilities for regular hand-washing.”