Wednesday, 3rd June 2020.
Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu,
The Executive Governor,
Through: The Office of The Special Assistant on Religious Affairs (Christianity).
COVID-19 AND THE CONTINUOUS CLOSURE OF CHURCHES IN LAGOS STATE.
The very best of our wishes to you as always.
Sir, we received a public communication with regard to service guidelines for places of worship through CAN National. We believe it was a fallout of the meeting with PTF on COVID 19, the acceptance of which has led to the opening of places of worship in several States.
The position of many of our church leaders and heads of ministries are at variance with the guidelines and forcing them on us through our leaders with whom the Government have been interfacing is a ploy by this Administration to push us against one another on the issue of opening of churches.
We have issues with the guidelines and of course with the reason given by the Hon. Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr Anofiu Elegushi.
On the guidelines, we will state our reservations for two out of many, which is to the number 12, requiring law enforcement agencies to be on the committee to be constituted.
From experience, if this is allowed, the committee will be infested by uncivil style of our law enforcement agencies, harassing and intimidating ministers of God and worshippers. As Christians, we should distance ourselves from the destructive military mentality in ensuring compliance with a guideline that is not even a law.
The committee should go round and use godly and civil persuasive approach to guide Churches to comply.
Sir, limiting Muslim prayers and Christians prayers to an hour, is a calculated plot to give advantage to the Muslims, whose prayers before now hardly last more than 15mins. With due respect sir, our template should guide your administration’s decision and not the other way round.
Sir, advise on possible provision of palliatives to the congregants should have been part of the Government’s offer. We make bold to provide a model that can make same possible in the future at no extra cost if the government is genuinely interested in partnering with us to ease the burden of members who as congregants are citizens of Lagos State.
Logistic assistance for prevention should also be considered for churches that may not have the means. This can be branded for LAGOS State in partnership with NCDC. It is primarily their responsibility to curtail the spread of the virus, though, our commitment to give assistance that will enable us see the end of the era is unflinching.
It must be stated without prejudice that the continuous looping of Church leaders and Muslims Clerics together is counter productive to the interest of our faith which though may be benefiting to the politicians but definitely limiting to, the quick resolutions of the issue at hand.
One cardinal reason gleaned out of Mr Anofiu Elegushi who being a Muslim must have appreciated the predicament of his religious leader who refused to take responsibility of the over 30 to 50 people allowed to gather for the singular reason that the cleric’s back will be to this set of congregants when in prayers and so cannot vouch against any untoward outcome.
This fact, though appreciated, cannot find full comprehension or reception by a cross section of our people. Reason being that the Christian ideology and template for worship is completely different from that of Islam and they should therefore not be made to suffer the same fate. We don’t face the Kaabar when we pray neither do we back our congregants.
This we believe necessitates the need for a Ministry that can effectively cater for the need of our faith to guide against those who don’t understand the spiritual essence of our worship from making uninformed assumptions such as we are confronted with now or will be in the future.
In the closing paragraph of the media report of the Honourable Commissioner’s statement, he was quoted as saying, “we all know Lagos is still having more figures. So definitely that will speak to our decision.”
We need to state that the process of generating figures which has fueled the fear of this Administration is spurious and far from being transparent.
We cite here a case out of many of the experiences of our men on the field. On the 9Th of May 2020, a young man, ASEIJE Amos resumed at his work place, Lemmy Ventures in Aboru where he was a factory worker. He was still cleaning his machine to be operated when he was electrocuted.
Though he was rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed as brought in dead, the revelation in this however was the refusal of the police to release the corpse. Instead, the body of Aseije Amos was taken to Yaba Isolation Centre and the parents we are informed were forced to fill a form contrary to the cause of his death before his body was released to them for burial.
Your Excellency, we believe there is the need for thorough investigation into the claims of what constitutes the Covid-19 figures from Lagos.
We remain law abiding but appeal to you on a broad based dialogue at saving the situation. We believe we have scores of alternatives that is win-win for all parties and should be given the opportunity to be heard.
For the greater good of Lagos,
Apostle Dr. Bolaji Akinyemi
Convener, Apostolic Round Table.
cc Apostle Alex Bamgbola, Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria, Lagos State.
cc Bishop Olusola Ore, Chairman Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
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