VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE, ENFORCEMENT OF SOCIAL DISTANCING MARK FIRST SUNDAY AFTER GOVERNMENT’S PRONOUNCEMENT.
Uploaded by Michael George on March 22, 2020
Many faith based organizations in Lagos state today called off services as the number of cases of the deadly Coronavirus increases and the government reviewing the number of individuals at a gathering to not more than twenty.
Our team of Correspondents of report that many churches had cancelled all special programmes that usually record massive attendance.
Normal Sunday Services were also called off with congregants being directed to observe special prayers at home, while a few others will interact with members through their cable television channels.
Catholics who rushed to church for the Early Morning Mass at Saint Monica’s Catholic Parish, Maza Maza were disappointed as they discovered that all masses have been cancelled today due to the ravaging Corona Virus.
Some officials of the Paramilitary arm of the church known as MOD were positioned at the church gate to inform parishioners about the development.
Copies of the bulletin printed for today’s Mass were heaped on a table near the church gate, as those interested bought the bulletins and left quietly to their homes.
Same was the situation at Saint Mathew’s Catholic Church, Amukoko, Saint Pio Sari Iganmu, Our Lady of Lourdes, Coker, Saint Gerald the Majella in Alafia, among other Catholic churches, on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
Findings are that Masses were canceled in Most Catholic churches across the state with effect from today.
Virtually all churches in Captain area of Abule Egba also in lagos did not open for normal services today.
A few of the churches which were opened had brief workers meetings and prayer for God’s intervention against coronavirus before dispersing in small groups to house fellowship centres to hold mini services.
Those who came later were turned back and directed to the fellowship centres nearest to them.
Similarly, service did not hold today at the Household of God Church Pastored by Rev Chris Okotie at Oregun, Ikeja.
A message from the church office had earlier announced the suspension of church activities until further notice.
The church advised members to” stay at home, read the bible and pray”.
Most Redeemed Christian Church of God parishes in Eyita Ojokoro in Ikorodu division of Lagos state directed members to key into the message of the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye on its Cable TV channel, rather than visiting the worship centers.
However, only workers went to church as early as seven o’clock this morning to observe some prayers before returning home.
Our Correspondent Yemisi Dada reports that other worship centers usually of large congregation around Eyita and Agric bus stop, did not open for worship as at the time of this report.
At the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Isashi, many of the worshippers were turned back and asked to attend their house fellowships closer to them in compliance with the Lagos State directive that gathering should not be more than fifty persons.
According to the Pastor in Charge of the area, Pastor Gbenga Shittu the spread of the Covid 19 was a plot by the devil to ensure that the spiritual lives of members were weakened.
Pastor Shittu told members that the General Overseer would address members in live broadcasts in the morning hours of Sundays until further notice.
He urged members not to be discouraged at this trying moment but be steadfast in prayers, adding that sooner than expected, the plague will be a thing of the past.
Additional reports from Correspondents Martina Ogbonna and Sharon Uduigwome say the situation is the same at Saint Jude Catholic Church in mafoluku ,Oshodi and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Coker in Coker – Aguda, and the Celestial Church of Christ, Olowu Parish, Lagos Island, where Sunday services had been suspended till further notice in compliance with the order of the state government on public gathering in order to curb the further spread of the COVID-19 .
Following the revised pronouncement by the Lagos state government, many worshippers of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, Isolo who did not get the information of the cancellation of church activities, were turned back by security personnel this morning.
The situation also affected the annual mother’s day celebration observed every 4th Sunday in Lent.
Our correspondent reports that the worshippers who expressed disappointment prayed to God to deliver His people from pestilences and heal their land.
Some churches decided to go digital by streaming live on the internet for members to watch from their homes.
At The Fountain Of Life Church, TFOLC, Headquarters, Ilupeju, only about twenty members were seated, which seen transmitting the online service while over four thousand followers view from the internet.
Other churches which had Television and Radio stations like, The Redeem Christian Church Of God, The Living Faith Church and The Mountain Of Fire and Miracles Church, had their members watching and listening from the comfort of their homes.
Meanwhile churches which have about thirty members however, held their services with worshippers sitting far from each other.
There was low compliance by some worship centres in Odogunyan town in Ikorodu division to the directive of Lagos State government which places a restriction on religious activities involving over fifty people.
This is because some Churches adjusted their Sunday activities to allow small congregation today.
Churches that adopted this approach included Deeper Life Church along Oduyebo Street and Foursquare Gospel Church, Power line area, Odogunyan, in Ikorodu as members were seen coming out in batches.
It was a full Church service at the Bible Believers Mission, BBM located along Ogunbela Street, Odogunyan in Ikorodu as songs and drum beats forced passersby to ask if the church leadership were aware of the government’s directive.
The case was however different at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Oduyebo Street, Odogunyan as members of the congregation were turned back following the closure of the Church and its main entrance.
Radio One Correspondent Olalekan Murisiku who went round the town reports that some white garments churches such as Celestial Church of Christ, CCC, Amuludun Parish and some smaller Churches in Odogunyan also recorded low turnouts.
Catholics in Ibafo Deanery of Abeokuta Dioceses attended Mass today.
They worshipped and observed the laid down precautions against the coronavirus disease.
At the Catholic Church of Transfiguration, Arepo, the Priest, the Reverend Father Michael Ogbitebu provided hand sanitizers for use of every worshipper.
Six Masses were held in all as against one for all parishioners.
Each of the Small Christian communities took turn to worship.
Worshippers had to sit one or two on a pew maintaining social distance.
Even during Holy Communion, social distance was observed as communicants maintained a distance of about one metre from each other.
A visit to some Muslim worship Centres popularly called Asalatu this morning revealed that all centres around Surulere area of Lagos were locked, as notice of suspension of Assalatul prayers till further notice were seen pasted at the gates.
Places visited included NASFAT – Surulere, Stadium and Baruwa at Ijesha, others Include NADWAT prayer group – Aguda branch, Hisbullah Centre at Kilo branch and Ansardeen Society of Nigeria- Ojuelegba branch.
Some security personnel were seen at Stadium and Aguda worship centres restricting the faithful from accessing the premises.
Some of the worshippers who spoke with Radio Nigeria claimed that they were aware of the suspension of Jumaat and Sunday Asalatu activities but felt that it was just a joke.
A member of the sensitization and mobilization arm of NASFAT, Alhaja Fauziat Sanni who explained that NASFAT taskforce are currently going round the worship centres in Lagos and Ogun state to ascertain level of compliance, said the faithful have been advised to join worship via on-line platforms for the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, the chief Imam of Lagos, Sheik Sulaiman Abu-Nolla had earlier instructed all Islamic Organizations and Chief Imams of the five divisions of Lagos State to suspend both Juma’at and Assalatul prayers across the State as part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID19.
Correspondent Yesirat Abiola reports that as at the time of this report, some of the faithful who were still in doubt of the reality of COVID19, were seen in groups discussing and arguing about the existence of Coronavirus.
Some worship centers today came under enforcement of the restriction order of the Lagos State Government, for allowing more than the worshippers approved.
Police dispersed worshippers at some churches in Mile 12 area.
The churches included Cherubim and Seraphim, Christ Apostolic Church and Celestial Church of God.
Some of the congregants told Radio One that armed security personnel drove them out of the church premises.
Similarly, Lagos Mainland Local Government Environmental Health team led by it’s Supervisor, Alhaji Jubril Emilagba, dispersed the congregation of FourSquare gospel church at Oyingbo in line with the directive of the Lagos State Government.
Security personnel also raided the Deeper life church opposite PHCN office on Iwaya road due to violation of the social distancing order of not more than 20 people at a gathering.
Report says over 50 people were carted away.
From Ogun state also came a report that a Pastor of the Apostolic Church in Sagamu was arrested by the Police flouting the restriction order for religious centers.
And despite the mandate of the Lagos State Government to security agencies to enforce the restriction on number of people in public spaces, the directive is being flagrantly disobeyed as it concerns social gatherings like parties and relaxation spots.
Our man Abiola PETERS who monitored the situation, reports that some people went ahead with parties like weddings over the weekend at event centres that were filled to capacity.
Such parties took place at Ketu, Lagos Island, Bariga and Mushin.
However one event center in Ikeja with such capacity of people was reportedly closed by the Police.
Meanwhile, drinking hangouts still recorded high patronage across the metropolis.
These include Ejigbo, Oshodi, Mushin, Lagos Island.
Some of the funseekers recklessly made contacts like handshakes and pattings, as they discussed the COVID-19 in passive manners.
A resident of Bucknor in Ejigbo, Mr Ola Kehinde called for more sensitization of the populace and stringent measures by government at all levels to contain the spread of the Coronavirus disease in the country.
Mr Kehinde however expressed concern that law enforcement agents may become overzealous in enforcing the order on social distancing, thereby advising managers of affected places and individuals to voluntarily comply.
There was no enforcement of the social distancing order of two kilometers at some BRT terminals across Lagos metropolis.
Commutters were seen in an almost body to body contact on the queues at Oshodi.
The BRT terminal at Ikorodu roundabout was also very crowded this afternoon.
Some commutters who spoke with Radio One Fm, said they spent over one hour on the queue because the BRT buses were few, while the available ones did an overload of the passengers.
Street hawkers were also seen going about the bus shelter selling cold drinks and snacks to passengers in the BRT terminal.
Traders also went about their normal activities in a crowded situation at Ikorodu garage.
Traders at the ojuwoye market in Mushin area of Lagos witnessed high patronage today as people engaged in panic buying following the outbreak of coronavirus.
In a chat with Radio one, one of them who pleaded anonymity said she came to buy food stuff so that the family would not go hungry in case there is restriction of movements.
However, prices of commodities have skyrocketed.
Our correspondent Olayinka Aboderin who also visited some shopping malls in Isolo reports that the situation was not different as the attendants were overwhelmed with customers.
It was a beehive of activities at the Mile 12 international food market in Kosofe Council area of Lagos state.
Traders and buyers were seen in large numbers transacting on perishable food items, stretching to the service lane of the road.
It was obvious that they paid no regard to the restrictions order of the state government, aimed at preventing a spread of the COVID-19.
Similarly, traders seems unbothered at Ketu and Tipper Fruit markets, as normal trading activities took place in both markets.
Some concerned residents called for more sensitization and awareness in indigenous languages to carry those in rural areas along with the preventive measures on the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
Compiled by Abiola PETERS