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Police raid churches in Lagos, Ogun

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Sunday without church service as parishioners of St. Jude Catholic Church Mafoluku Oshodi stay off Sunday Mass to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI


The commander, Lagos State Rapid Response Squad (RRS), DCP Olatunji Disu, yesterday morning forced the management of Victorious Army International Church to comply with the Lagos State government’s directive limiting gathering to 50 persons to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state.

The enforcement, which was based on the directive of the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was led by DCP Disu. The team got to the Acme Road branch of the church at about 9:00a.m. only to be locked out by the church.
 
The Guardian gathered that officials of the church were seen scampering around to inform other members of the presence of the police. When the entrance gate was opened, some belligerent church members who saw one of the enforcement officers recording the church activities attacked them, seized two mobile phones.

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The members equally attacked TVC reporter, Ivy Kanu, and almost seized her phone. TVC cameraman was equally attacked as they tried unsuccessfully to prevent him from recording in and out of the church premises. DCP Disu in de-escalating the crisis prevailed on the management of the church to discontinue the service and prune down the attendance to reflect the governor, Babajide Sanwoolu’s directive.
 
The team commenced compliance monitoring as early as 7:00a.m. visiting religious organisations in Alausa, Agidingbi, ACME Road, Akilo, Ogba, Aguda, Yahaya Abatan, Omole, Ojodu,  Ogudu, Oregun, Toyin, Ikeja GRA, Allen, Opebi, Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way,  Olowopopo, Jobi Fele Way, Alapere, Oba Akran and Obafemi Awolowo Way.
 
There was total compliance in all the places visited. Some churches visited had their services online while some had banners tied to their entrance informing worshippers to go back home.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State police command has expressed readiness to embark on full enforcement of the ban. Policemen attached to the task force set up by the state government stormed various churches in the state to enforce the ban on high-density gatherings. The task force led by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Toyin Afolaogun, disrupted services at some churches and dispersed worshippers for allegedly flouting the government’s directive.

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At Living Faith Church in Ota, social distancing was not observed as members of the church sat close to one another, while four services went on normally uninterrupted. A leader in the church who pleaded for anonymity said a memo had already went out for services to be held at cell fellowship level but “the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) made a release later in the evening on Saturday that Sunday’s services should still be held to spread the awareness about coronavirus and pray for the nation. So we can describe yesterday’s service as public awareness service. Very few people as expected were not aware and they were properly educated.”

While some churches in Abeokuta and other parts of the state did not conduct regular Sunday services, others defied the government directive and allowed congregants to worship. Some other churches amended their mode of worship and conducted their services in batches.

Some of the churches visited in Abeokuta by the task force include St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Ibara; Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Ibara; St. John’s Anglican Church, Igbein, Abeokuta; Gospel Faith Mission International (GOFAMINT), Onikolobo; and the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Abiola Way.

At the Winners Chapel situated along Quarry Road, Abeokuta, hundreds of worshippers who had assembled preparatory to early morning service at 6:30am were dispersed by the task force operatives.

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In this article:
COVID-19Olatunji Disu
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