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Religious groups, Mosques cancel activities after Lagos Govt. pronouncement on coronavirus

By Monsuru Olowoopejo

Apparently, to prevent the continued spread of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, Islamic organisations and mosques have suspended all congregational activities indefinitely after numbers of confirmed cases increased.

The Islamic organisations and mosque suspension of activities further became mandatory after Ekiti State Government disclosed that a 27-year-old American national was confirmed dead by medical officials over suspected infection of coronavirus and infecting others. And Lagos State Government ban on religious activities that require the attendance of over 50 people.

In compliance with the directives, they claimed that the safety and well-being of everyone including their members is the main priority at this time, and that after the country is declared safe, activities would resume immediately.

Announcing the suspension of activities, Lagos State House of Assembly mosque disclosed that all congregational activities that would require violation of governments directives would have been suspended indefinitely.

In a statement by the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Dr. Abdul-Lateef Abdul-Hakeem, who was a former commissioner in the state, claimed that the decision would assist to prevent the spread of the disease to worshippers in the mosque.

Also, the Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria disclosed that suspension of its activities shall take effect immediately and it was until further notice, saying, this is our own method of curtailing the spread of this pandemic in the country.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammed Hassan, the organization, while saying the decision on its activities was also based on fatwa (Islamic jurisprudence) passed by World Islamic bodies on the deadly disease, listed some of the affected activities to include its weekly Asalatu, Jum’ah prayers and any gathering of 50 people.

Ansar-ud-deen said: “This decision was informed by the menacing spread of the novel coronavirus(COVID-19) and Fatwa by World Islamic bodies taking cognisance of the  Islamic principles of ‘preservation of life’, ‘prevention of harm’, and ‘proactive response to impending danger’. The society shall abide by government recommendations and update members and mosque users of any change in the suspension decision.

“We acknowledge that many of our members and mosque users might find this unprecedented decision very uncomfortable, we should please be reassured that this is for the good of the community and it is in compliance with the Islamic response to the pandemic.

“We encourage all to continue their regular prayers at home, observe personal hygiene and be consistent with their morning and evening Adhkar. May Allah have mercy on the ummah, the entire community, and humanity in general”.

Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), an organisation with over 100, 000 members, warned that none of its branches should organise any activities that will warrant gathering of members above 50.

The organisation, in a statement by its President, Olaniyi Yusuf, on Thursday, disclosed that to prevent violation of the extant government directives, due consultation was held with the leadership of major organs of NASFAT where it was agreed that the society will now focus on programs that can be done electronic or online.

Olaniyi announced that Jumuah service, tafsir session, and Tahajudd program on Fridays and Asalatu services on Sundays in their mosques and branches were hereby suspended immediately.

“All activities with the likelihood of attracting 50 or more people will be suspended till further notice. And programmes on our 25th Anniversary celebrations should be suspended immediately except tree planting at Port-Harcourt and Aseese which are to hold as scheduled with a caveat that the total attendance must be less than 50 persons and social distancing observed with spaces between attendees.

“Electronic/online activities for the 25th-anniversary programs will continue as scheduled. However, each NASFAT educational institution should follow the directives of the state government/education ministries to determine when to shut down.

“NASFAT school to name a competent staff as COVID-19 focus person with responsibility for monitoring Health and hygiene of pupils and staff till term examination is completed or school closure by the government. Each school is to procure/provide infrared thermometers, hand sanitisers and encourage social distancing as appropriate.

“The society and its officials will NOT be involved in any other gathering including training, conference, wedding, special prayers, birthday celebrations, funeral etc. that would involve more than 50 persons until this pandemic is brought under control”.

NASFAT President, however, directed each branch to set up an Emergency Coordination Team that would include the Health Services Secretary, Welfare Secretary, Missionary, Security Secretary, Public Relations Secretary and Women Affairs Secretary.

He explained that the aim of the team was to monitor and track the welfare of members and further ensure compliance with all lawful directives of government authorities.

Another prominent organisation, Lekki Muslim Ummah (LEMU) in Lagos, has suspended its Jummah service (Friday congregational prayers) indefinitely, saying this is in compliance with Lagos State Government ban on religious activities that required gathering of over 50 people.

In a statement made available to Theguild and signed by its publicity Secretary, AbdulFattah Olajide, urged residents to observe their Jummah in their homes.

The statement released yesterday reads in part: “In view of the Lagos state government’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, there will be no jummah prayer at the lekki central mosque until further notice. Solu fii buyutikum – pray in your houses”.

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