Continued Closure Of Churches No Longer Justifiable – CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria on Tuesday kicked against the continued closure of worship centres by some state governments.

The CAN president, Dr Samson Ayokunle, said this in a statement by his Special Assistant (Media and Communications), Adebayo Oladeji.

In the statement titled, ‘Reopen all churches now: Enough is enough,’ Ayokunle said there was no more justification for closure of worship centres.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had at its press briefing on June 1 ordered the reopening of worship centres.

It, however, said state government would take a final decision on the issue and ensure compliance with COVID-19 safety rules.

However, some state governments, including Lagos and Ogun, which have yet to reopen the worship centres, are insisting that it is not yet safe to do so.

But Ayokunle warned that the lockdown of places of worship was no longer acceptable.

He regretted that despite the directive given by the PTF on the reopening of places of worship nationwide, states such as Lagos and Ogun had yet to allow worship places, especially churches, to be reopened.

The CAN president said, “Despite the directive given by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with regard to the reopening of places of worship nationwide, some states like Lagos and Ogun have yet to allow worship places. What sin have the places of worship committed?

“With the sudden emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, the leadership of CAN at all levels agreed with the government on the need to close down the places of worship, economy, schools and every other facet of life.

“But with the reopening of the economy, especially the markets, both organised and the unorganised markets, along with the plan to reopen airports and schools, the closure of churches anywhere in the country is no longer tenable and acceptable.

“In what way are the opened and roadside markets more organised than the church which warranted their opening? Is it not our members in the places of worship that do go to markets? Why are they allowed to go to markets and disallowed from going to places of worship? Is it because the marketers cannot contract the virus in the markets and airports?

“It is our opinion that while the government and other relevant stakeholders are working hard to get a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic, the church too has a role to play by seeking divine solutions as well. CAN appeals to the Lagos, Ogun and other state governments where churches are still under lockdown to relax it for God’s sake.”

When contacted, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, said it was illogical to compare markets with worship centres as regards COVID-19 response.

Omotosho, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday, said the decision to close worship centres in Lagos was agreed on by the state government and the religious leaders.

He stated, “With due respect to the Christian Association of Nigeria, that kind of comparison is not logical. The decision to close worship centres in Lagos was taken by the religious leaders and the state government. The state government presented to them facts and figures about the COVID-19 situation in the state and they saw that it was premature to open worship centres.

“Don’t forget that we are using the curve model in Lagos, and all we are fighting for is to bend the curve. Experts have told us that either July or August that the virus will peak. Any moment from now, the figures will be getting higher. Why will it be now that we will throw open worship centres?”

On its part, the Ogun State Government said it consulted the leadership of CAN in the state before taking its decision on the closure of churches.

The state Governor spokesman, Remmy Hazzan, who stated this on Tuesday, advised the CAN President to consult with the leadership of CAN in Ogun and Lagos states to know the reason for the closure of churches.

Hazzan said, “We didn’t get to where we are without interfacing with CAN Ogun State and Lagos State didn’t get to where they are without interfacing with CAN Lagos State.”

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