TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has reviewed the restriction on the number of worshippers during church services from 50 to 70 persons in the state.
Governor Wike said modalities were also being worked out for the number of Moslems that would participate in Friday prayers.
He said these were part of resolutions reached yesterday, at a meeting of religious leaders in the state at Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor stated that his administration did not want to take decisions on review of existing restrictions on the modes of religious gatherings without their inputs.
He noted that since the last meeting with them (religious leaders) on March 23, 2020, when the existing restrictions were collectively endorsed, it was obvious that the spiritual life of the people has declined because they could not meet to pray and build their faith daily as they ought to do.
Governor Wike commended the religious leaders for complying with the directive of 50 persons per worship session and the maintenance of COVID-19 advisories.
He noted that the continual prayers they have made for the state have provided spiritual strength.
The governor assured that his administration would provide palliatives to religious organisations through their umbrella organisations.
Wike said even if many people criticised him when he closed down the borders of the state, the strategy has been emulated by other states.
The governor stated that most people still did not believe the reality of the pandemic and have continued to behave in manners that endanger the lives of others.
He enjoined the religious leaders to use their positions to enlighten their members to know that the pandemic, which has been claiming lives, was real.
He frowned at banks, supermarkets, shopping malls and other institutions that have continued to allow people to enter their premises without wearing face masks and warned that government would not hesitate to seal such premises should the practice continue.
On the Executive Order on burials, Governor Wike said the N10 million fine imposed for defaulters is not to enrich government but to deter people from flouting the guidelines.
Speaking for the Moslem community, the Public Relations Officer of Rivers State Islamic Affairs, Murtala Bamidele reaffirmed their determination to continue to cooperate with the state government to stem the spread of coronavirus in the state.
In his remarks on behalf of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Soibi Dagogo Jack, noted that Rivers is the only state where the governor has continued to seek the input of religious leaders.
Bishop, Diocese of Evo Anglican Communion, who spoke for the Christian Council of Nigeria (CAN) commended the governor for the sincere and honest manner he has fought to save lives.
He pledged that the religious community would continue to support the State government’s strategies aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.