By Jimoh Ahmed, Mary Agidi & Saheed Ibrahim
Religious leaders and residents of Ondo state have commended the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for lifting the ban on religious gathering in the state.
Governor Akeredolu on Wednesday lifted the ban to allow congregational services for Christians on Sundays and Muslims on Fridays respectively.
The state government had banned religious gatherings across the state as part of efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.
The State chairman of the Christians Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. John Ayo-Oladapo described the decision as a welcome development, which would not be taken for granted.
According to him, the Christian body had been yearning for this directive following the closing of churches about three months ago due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, affirming that members of the congregation had been sensitised on precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
He said: “We have been expecting it, and we have sensitised our members, educated them on what they need to do as regards observing protocols regarding COVID-19. I have the assurance that our religious leaders are well-prepared for it”.
Also speaking, the State Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Bishop Kolawole Opayinka expressed readiness of Pentecostal churches to ensure compliance with the laid down rules, noting that the use of hand sanitizer at the entrance of each church, wearing of mask and maintaining physical distancing would be made compulsory.
However, Parishes of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Ondo state have been directed to wait till June 14 before Sunday service could take place in the churches.
The Chief Imam of Tajl Addaby Central Mosque, Owo, Sheikh (Dr) Yunus Anola stated that while Islam supports precautionary measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus, it is also good to offer prayers to God to put an end to the calamity as only He has cure.
According to him, it is only when God stamps whatever science formulation or vaccine that its efficacy can be authentic.
The Chief Imam of Ikareland, Sheik Abbas Mohamed Abubakar, who described the lifting of the ban as good however urged Muslims not to abuse the opportunity.
Similarly, the Chairman of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Akoko Northwest local government chapter, Sheik Basiru Aminu advised religious leaders to obverse the guidelines on the reopening of mosques for Juma’at prayer with honesty.
A cross section of the religious leaders called Muslim and Christian believers to use the opportunity to relentlessly call on God for the virus to end in earnest.