Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Days after the rampaging Coronovirus disease (COVID-19) sneaked into President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown of Daura, Katsina State, killing a medical doctor, Governor Aminu Bello Masari on Tuesday ordered the resumption of Muslim congregational prayers earlier banned in the area in the wake of the global pandemic.
As part of measures to curtail the spread of the disease, Masari had directed the suspension of congregational prayers in mosques and churches throughout the state, apparently in conformation with the social distancing regime recommended by the WHO and endorsed by the Federal Government.
But the government in a press statement on Tuesday by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, said that Muslim religious leaders might wish to resume their normal congregational prayers, including the Friday Juma’at prayers.
Inuwa explained that the development was the outcome of a meeting of various religious and other stakeholders including traditional rulers and security agencies in the state.
According to the statement, “His Excellency, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, has directed the lifting of the suspension of Friday prayers with immediate effect but to be conducted under some stipulated health and security guidelines.
“The Juma’at Imams should, however, avoid prolonged sermons in order to discharge their followers within a short period.
“People are also strongly advised to maintain social distancing and strictly adhere to all rules and regulations as provided by health experts in fighting the contagious disease.”
The statement was silent on the issue of the subsisting ban of church services but a government source hinted on Wednesday that the relevant agencies were expected to hold separate meetings with Christian leaders in the state to deliberate on the matter.
The governor had also last weekend ordered civil servants to return to work while schools including tertiary institutions remain shut.
The Katsina COVID-19 index case, a medical doctor, died last Saturday at the Air Force Hospital, Daura, according to Masari.
Reports indicate that the deceased, aged 55, had travelled to his home state of Kogi from where he proceeded to Lagos and spent two weeks before returning to Daura where he was the proprietor of a private hospital.
He was said to have underlying ailments of hepatitis and hypertension.
Masari noted that health officials had been mobilised to Daura, on contact-tracing of persons with whom the victim might have had interactions.