The Ogun State Government has hit back at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for faulting it over reopening of markets while religious centres remained closed.
In a Wednesday statement, CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle charged the Lagos, Ogun and other state governments to reopen churches in their domain because COVID-19-induced closure of religious centres was no longer justified.
“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 and other sectors opened?
“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?” Ayokunle said.
Reacting, the state government said it was “not ideal” for the apex Christian body to compare markets with churches and mosques.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, the decision to lockdown churches and mosques due to COVID-19 was taken in consultation with the leaders of the two religions.
The state government added that a date has yet to be fixed for the reopening of the worship centres.
Hazzan said,“We have said it before that comparing markets with churches and mosques is not ideal. The market environment is an open space. The horrible effect is not there and so the use of face masks may just be sufficient. There is still a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ogun and Lagos states.
“Lagos is the epicentre and Ogun State is like New Jersey to New York in the United States; we cannot pretend that this state is completely immune.
“We are not in any way taking any unjustified decision. This is in the interest of the public. In the end, everyone will be back to worship God that we all serve. The public interest is not meant to punish any faith-based organisation or any faith whatsoever.”