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Kano, Nasarawa relax restriction on worship centres

By Murtala Adewale (Kano), Abel Abogonye (Lafia), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Ibe Wada (Lagos)
20 May 2020   |   4:14 am
Governments of Kano and Nasarawa states have relaxed the restriction they slammed on religious centres to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Governor Sule

Governments of Kano and Nasarawa states have relaxed the restriction they slammed on religious centres to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Kano yesterday released operational guidelines to control the new restriction imposed by Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Monday.

The guideline specifically structured to unlock the restriction for Friday Jumaat prayers, Eid-el-Fitir congregational prayers and Sunday Christian worship.

However, the religious activities are permitted between 10a.m. and 2p.m.

Meanwhile, Sallah festivities, including the visit to Gidan Shettima, Hawan Daushe, Hawan Nassarawa and Hawan Dorayi in Kano have been cancelled.

According to the new structure, the government relaxed the lockdown for four hours on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, stated, “Government considers it convenient to allow the conduct of Eid prayers on the Sallah day in all the five emirates in the state during which restriction of movement has been lifted from 6a.m. to 2p.m. under strict observance of safety and prevention protocols.”

In Nasarawa, worshippers must adhere strictly to safety measures.

The decision was reached after an expanded security meeting headed by Governor Abdullahi Sule yesterday at the Government House, Lafia.

The council agreed on lifting the ban for two weeks to be followed by other measures to lock up or otherwise.

Spokesman of the council and Commissioner for Information and Culture, Dogo Shama, said lifting of the ban also extended to the commercial tricycles who would carry only two passengers.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter, has called on Governor Nasir el-Rufai to relax the lockdown in the state to allow Christians and Muslims perform their religious obligations, while observing the prescribed measures in fighting the pandemic.

The call came on the heels of similar calls by the Council Imams and Ulamas on the governor to consider the hardship faced by the citizens under the lockdown.

Kaduna CAN chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, said yesterday that after careful consideration of government’s efforts on the days suitable for relaxing the restriction of movement, CAN suggested to the government that in her next adjustment of days for relaxing the lockdown it “should consider Fridays and Sundays to enable Muslims and Christians to worship in mosques and churches.”

Similarly, the Executive Secretary, Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina, has called on the Federal Government to allow the re-opening of churches to enable worshippers go back and intensify their prayers and assemble spiritual arsenals for the battle against COVID-19.

He argued that if the government could lift restriction on market places and banks, “why is it not possible to lift the ban on churches and mosques and allow the church and mosque authorities the responsibility to cater for their people and put in place requirements for protection.”

Speaking at a press conference to mark the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si of Pope Francis yesterday in Abuja, Obodoechina noted that the extension of the lockdown for another two weeks demonstrated the ineptitude of government.

In another development, Muslim leaders in Kaduna have agreed to cancel all congregational prayers as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The clerics met with el-Rufai yesterday to notify him of their decision.

Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, an Islamic cleric, advised the people of Kaduna not to allow the Eid-el-Fitr celebration roll back the gains of almost two months in the fight against COVID-19.

He pointed out that “the Eid celebration comes up only once in a year,” adding that the rate of COVID-19 infections and related deaths were fewer in the state because of the proactive measures taken by government from the onset of the pandemic.