Christian and Islamic leaders have disagreed over Government’s claim that reopening of religious centres has contributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases since the second wave hit the country last November.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control, MrBoss Mustapha, told Newsmen that reopening of Schools and businesses also caused the high infection rate.
In their reactions on Monday, January 11, 2021, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) expressed divergent views.
While CAN described the PTF claim as ‘wild’, the NSCIA, led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, supported the claim, saying it will not hesitate to shut down mosques should the Government so direct.
CAN General Secretary, Pastor Joseph Daramola said: “It is not true that the reopening of Churches caused the second wave of COVID-19. Is it the opening of Churches that caused the second wave of COVID-19 in other developed countries? All the places they locked have been opened. Nobody should try and make issues out of this. They may have their statistics, but if you go to Churches in Abuja, they are still wearing masks. They have been keeping to the social distance.”
Pastor Daramola said: “In my church, we are still abiding by the COVID-19 protocols. I do not agree so. Since the Government is there and it has all its apparatus, they can set up a committee. The statement is too wide. What is happening is all over the world.”
In his own reaction, the NSCIA spokesman, Alhaji Aselemi Ibrahim, said: “The Council is a product of law and we are law abiding organisation. And Boss Mustapha has been put in charge of the PTF. We believe that he has more information that we may not have. So, if he comes out to say that the COVID-19 surge is not unconnected with the opening of certain public places, we cannot dispute that. Council will readily, if it comes to that shut or advise all organisations that it superintends over including mosque, to shut down.”
He noted that: “At the first surge, we had total lockdown. The National mosque was shut down. Other places of worship were also shut down. I was the chairperson of the monitoring committee to ensure that places where Muslims worship were under the protocol of COVID-19. We agree with Boss Mustapha and we will abide with any decision reached therein.”