BELLO VOWS TO KEEP ALL WORSHIP CENTRES SHUT IN ABUJA
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Mallam Mohammed Bello has vowed to keep all worship centres shut.
This comes at a time when the ban on religious gatherings is being lifted in several northern States.
President Buhari had ordered the closure of all worship centres nationwide due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus Pandemic in Nigeria.
Explaining reasons for the development, Bello said the FCT is guided by advice from medical experts and guidelines from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 which had directed that all measures approved two weeks earlier be extended for another two weeks. These, he said, include the restriction on religious gatherings.
He explained on Tuesday in his office during a meeting between the FCTA and representatives of the FCT Christian and Muslim communities led by the FCT Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman, Dr Samson Jonah and the FCT League of Imams representative, Dr Tajudeen Adigun.
The Minister said: “based on the guidance of the medical experts and consultations with the highest authority, the Presidential Task Force gave a decision and communication on the fact that all the measures approved two weeks ago be extended for another period of time to enable organisations, individuals and all of us plan for a gradual opening up of the society”.
Anthony Ogunleye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Minister said the meeting acknowledged that the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to “save lives and this involves monitoring very closely reports from the health authorities which indicate that after 9 weeks of the pandemic and attempts to curtail its spread not much has changed”.
He further explained that all actions on the re-opening of the society depend on the advice of medical experts who at the moment, do not support it.
Present at the meeting were the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary of the FCTA, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, the Acting Secretary of the health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr Mohammed Kawu and other leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities in the FCT.
The Minister continued: “the leaders of the religious organizations have agreed to work towards the eventual opening up of worship places at a time to be determined by the Presidential Task Force, based on medical advice”.
However, the Minister explained that a committee consisting of representatives of the religious organisations and their leaders, as well as the FCT, has been constituted to look into the modalities and protocols of operating places of worship when COVID-19 lockdown in the FCT is relaxed.
“Therefore certain protocol such as use of face masks compulsory hand washing and social distancing will have to be adhered to when places of worship eventually re-open.
“This, will also include the identification and placement of modalities for the decontamination of all places of worship adding that these protocols are necessary so that when eventually places of worship are re-opened, they will be done with minimal risks to the worshippers”, the Minister said.
The religious leaders appreciated the efforts of the FCT Administration in the fight against COVID-19 especially in the distribution of palliatives and the meeting agreed that whatever palliatives were available following the extension of the lockdown will also be re-distributed through the religious organisations.