The Lagos State Government has commended religious leaders in the state for their cooperation and active participation in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the cooperation received from the leaders of the two major religious groups, especially in the area of zero-congregational gathering, assisted in lowering the curve of the pandemic.
The commendation was given on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, by the state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, during a Ministerial Press briefing commemorating the first year in office of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu at Alausa, Ikeja.
On plans to reopen the economy of the State including worship centres, Elegushi pleaded for continued collaboration with the State government and adherence to the government’s directives that would still be presented to the various churches and mosques when they are eventually allowed to gather for their services.
According to Elegushi, “When we got a hint on the current Coronavirus disease across the globe, we immediately went into action by organising a sensitisation and briefing workshop on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 at the Chapel of Christ the Light Hall, Alausa. This was followed by another meeting where a joint decision was reached by all religious bodies to reduce the attendance of worshippers to 50 worshipers at a time”.
“In addition to this, our Religious Leaders came together again on 18th March 2020 after reviewing the situation to agree on a total lockdown of Religious Worship Centres across the State before President Muhammad Buhari came up with an announcement locking down Lagos, Ogun and Abuja“, he said.
Elegushi said that the shutdown of all religious gatherings, activities and programmes by churches and mosques was quite timely and helped in the containment of the virus from escalating beyond control, considering the huge numbers that do gather periodically for religious purposes in the State.
He also acknowledged the discomfort which the pandemic brought on both the Muslims and Christians in Lagos, specifically during the Lenten season and the Ramadan period.
He said: “For a very long time in human history, Christians celebrated the Lenten period and Easter celebrations at home, while our Muslim brothers and sisters were also restricted to observe Sallah at home throughout the Ramadan period, including the Eid-El Fitri celebrations”.
Elegushi attributed the mutual understanding that exists between the State government and the religious groups to a long-term religious harmony and peaceful coexistence, saying that creating rapport is one of the critical functions of the Ministry.
Meanwhile, information from a monitored report suggests that the churches and mosques in the state might not be opening anytime soon for worshippers. This was disclosed by Elegushi on the sideline of the Ministerial briefing commemorating the first year in office of Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu.
He said that the reopening was not possible as Lagos State is the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in the country and that after several meetings with religious leaders in the state, the possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out.
Elegushi said that they claim that they cannot take responsibility for ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are in attendance.
He said that the governor will come out with further directives.
It can be recalled that the Federal Government, on Monday, June 1, 2020, announced the relaxation of the ban on religious gatherings. They, however, said that each state government can devise measures that suit them, thereby looking at the possibility of doing so in their respective states.