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Muslims back down on mosques reopening, Christians differ in Lagos

By Monsuru Olowoopejo

Representatives from muslim community in Lagos have unanimously agreed to still put mosques under lock pending when health experts give clearance that the state is free of COVID-19 transmission and residents can return to normal life.
Although groups from Christian community differ to that position and their conclusion was that they will go ahead with directives of Lagos state government which permitted them to resume worship, assuring the government that members have been sensitized on protocols guiding worship centers in the state.
The muslims excuses against reopening of mosques after Lagos state government had approved return of religious gatherings, were that it would be wrong to endanger lives muslims even when the governments could not guarantee an end to the virus spread and that residents must take responsibility for their wellbeing.
The representatives stated that they could understand that the state government was pressured to approve reopening of religious houses but assured the government that muslims were ready to wait pending when the governments could categorically confirm that Lagos is coronavirus free.
At the meeting, sources said that the Chief Missioner of Ansar-ul-deen, Sheik Abdul-Rahman Ahmad, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos chapter, Alexandra Bamgbala and others were present at the stakeholders’ meeting.
Sources from the religious groups disclosed to The Guild that the representatives made their stance during a stakeholders meeting held with the commissioner for Home Affairs, Anofiu Elegushi, earlier on Tuesday at the ministry, stated that the meeting was convened to clarify the government directive on religious houses reopening.
A staff of the ministry, who did not want his name mentioned, further hinted that the argument of the muslims was that the coast is not clear and that results of tests release daily by National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) indicates that the virus was still prevalent in the state.
 He said: “And due to that, the muslims said that they will like to remain close pending when the government can categorically state that the Lagos is free from coronavirus pandemic”.
Another staff present at the meeting further disclosed that when the commissioner sorted the view of the Christian faithful led by Bamgbala, they differed and stated that their members were already prepared to resume church services as earlier stated by the government and would like to abid by the earlier pronouncement.
One of the representatives present at the meeting further disclosed that Elegushi said that the government would enforce the guidelines to be released by Lagos State Safety Commission and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and that religious house found culpable of violating the law would be penalised.
The commissioner, after listening to the arguments from both ends, stated that the government would not compel any worshipper to perform what he feels does not conform to its faith, rather, it would always ensure freedom of religion as mentioned in fundamental human rights.

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