Despite the Federal Government’s lifting of the ban on religious gatherings nationwide, some state governments have warned worshippers from reopening places of worship.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 announced on Monday, June 1, 2020 that it was lifting the ban even though the number of cases keep rising in the country.
The government’s decision has baffled many Nigerians, leading the PTF’s national coordinator, Sani Aliyu, to even admit on Tuesday, June 2 that places of worship are recognised as a major potential for spreading COVID-19 infection, as demonstrated in several outbreaks globally.
However, he said a list of strict guidelines will guide the reopening of worship centres across the country, to prevent a devastating outbreak (read full list of guidelines here)..
Aliyu also advised that it’s still safer for people to worship at home instead of places of worship that are expected to be crowded, regarded as a danger as the rate of infections in Nigeria grows exponentially.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu [NACA Nigeria]
Despite the lifting of the ban, governments in Lagos, Oyo, and Kaduna have stated categorically that the ban on places of worship within their borders remain in place.
The Lagos Commissioner for Home Affairs, Anofiu Elegushi, said on Tuesday that the state has yet to find a way to reopen religious centres in a safe manner.
Lagos is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria with 5,277 coronavirus cases, 48.8% of the country’s total of 10,819, as of June 2.
Elegushi said, “Even before the pronouncement by Federal Government, we have been having meetings with the religious leaders.
“We even had one with Safety Commission, looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.
“We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, the possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.”
The commissioner said the state will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to work out the best ways to safely reopen places of worship.
Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, also announced in the early hours of Wednesday, June 3 that the ban on religious gatherings in the state remains in force until further notice.
“A risk situation analysis is being conducted by experts and the outcome of this analysis will determine our next steps,” he tweeted.
The Kaduna State government also announced on Tuesday that it has yet to lift the ban, stressing that it is still engaging stakeholders on how to do so safely.
“All the sacrifices made by residents of Kaduna State demand that the easing of the lockdown be done safely and responsibly,” read a statement from Governor Nasir El-Rufai‘s office.
Nigeria has recorded coronavirus cases in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
While 3,239 people have recovered and been discharged from care, 314 people have died.