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Bamgbola, Musa, Okogie, others urge faithful to be patient over reopening of worship centres

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Christians and Muslims have been admonished to be patient with Lagos State government over the suspension of its earlier plans to reopen churches and mosques. This was the submission of religious leaders, who reacted to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s announcement, last Tuesday, to suspend indefinitely plans to reopen churches and mosques in the state.

The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State Chapter, Apostle (Prof) Alexander Bamgbola, appealed to Christians to intensify their prayer towards divine victory. He said CAN was in constant dialogue with Lagos State government since the pandemic started early this year.

“Therefore, on behalf of CAN leadership, Lagos State, I am appealing strongly to Church leaders, Ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and all Christians in Lagos State, for understanding, calmness and peace in this season. Most importantly, we need to intensify our prayers much more now, so that the Lord will hasten to perform His Word and take this Coronavirus pestilence away from our land,” he said.

The former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie said government’s decision was to protect the spread of the deadly virus. He reminded Christian leaders that obedience is better than sacrifice, and called on Christians and their leaders to be reasonable, especially at this critical period.

“Government is not against churches and mosques. Rather, what they are doing is to prevent the spread of the virus and no reasonable pastor or man of God that would like to jeopardise their members’ lives,” he explained.

Citing Kano, Okogie said Kano State government initially denied the presence of Coronavirus in the state, but surprisingly, people started dying in their numbers to the extent there was a mass burial.

“This is what the government, especially Lagos State, is trying to avoid and at the same time protect citizens from dying unnecessarily,” he said.The Chief Imam of Muslim Community University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Ismail Musa, also said the suspension of the reopening of worship centres was a wise decision and in tandem with the fundamental objective of Shariah, which is to preserve human life. He said it is when faithful are alive that they can worship God.

Urging Muslims and Nigerians to prioritise preservation of life above any other consideration, Musa said: “You should restrict your own movement, even in areas that movement is allowed. We are dealing with an enemy we are yet to understand fully. So, we need to tread with caution. Some mosques that were reopened in Saudi Arabia are being shut down a second time. We must take individual responsibility for our safety. If the government had reopened worship places, I would have kept my distance from them, until I am convinced it is safe to do so,” he said.

The Chief Missioner of the Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society (NASFAT), Imam Maruf Onike AbdulAzeez, who welcomed the development, argued that the safety and security guidelines by Lagos State government would be difficult to comply with. According to him, if there is an instrument to check the temperature, there is none to check age or how old a worshipper is.

He said experiences from other countries that hastily reopened their places of worship was not very pleasant. Also, Director of National Issues/Social Welfare, CAN, Bishop Stephen Adegbite appealed to Christian leaders and their followers to understand that whatever measure was taken was to safeguard lives, as only the living can worship God. He said Lagos State government had better information on what is happening than any other person, even the number of people that are dying daily and called on Christians to bear with the authority. He said: “It is very important that we take precautionary measures so that we can stop the spread and reduce the number of people that are being infected daily. This is why the church will not say no to what the government had said.”

Also, Director of National Issues/Social Welfare, CAN, Bishop Stephen Adegbite appealed to Christian leaders and their followers to understand that whatever measure was taken was to safeguard lives, as only the living can worship God. He said Lagos State government had better information on what is happening than any other person, even the number of people that are dying daily and called on Christians to bear with the authority.

He said: “It is very important that we take precautionary measures so that we can stop the spread and reduce the number of people that are being infected daily. This is why the church will not say no to what the government had said.”


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