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Churches, mosques may remain shut in Lagos over disagreement on guidelines

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The Rev. Philip Dinwiddie enters the chapel at St. James Episcopal Church to to pre-record mass on April 24, 2020 in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic churches have had to find new ways to bring service into their parishioners lives, affecting their donation intake.  GREGORYSHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES

Indications have emerged that churches and mosques in Lagos may not reopen soon for worshippers due to disagreement on protocols and guidelines between the state government and religious leaders.

Although the Federal Government on Monday lifted the ban on mosques and churches in the country based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments, but the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, speaking at a ministerial press briefing to commemorate the first year in office of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the possibility of reopening churches and mosques in the state had been ruled out.

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Elegushi said: “Even before the pronouncement by Federal Government, we have been having meeting with the religious leaders. We even had one with Safety Commission, looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.

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“We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.

“They claimed that they cannot take such responsibility of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them. Like an Imam said he doesn’t know what is going on at his back immediately he is leading a prayer.

“He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back he is not going to take responsibility for their presence.

“So in the meeting we ruled out in totality the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so. The Federal Government mentioned it, but it never ruled out the state in achieving that pronouncement, so all states will have to look at possibility of doing so in their respective states.”

The commissioner said the ministry has started the process of automating the processing of money lending licenses. He revealed that since the commencement of the process few months ago, it has received 207 applications out of which approvals was granted for 184 applicants.

Elegushi explained that the decision to automate the process of money lending licenses in the state was to ensure a hitch-free renewal and fresh applications by prospective applicants.

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