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OGUN: How religious Organisations Violate COVID-19 directives without sanctions

With over 700 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, religious organisations in Ogun State have constantly flouted the directives imposed by the state government to contain the spread of the virus across the state.

After recording several active cases of the virus, Nigeria closed down its borders and suspended gatherings and movement within states.

Ogun state was on the frontline watch by the Federal Government for active cases since it shares its major borders with Lagos state, where the virus has taken a great toll.

After observing several weeks of total lockdown, the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, eased the measures to permit reopening of businesses and other organisations as he looked forward to reopening religious activities on June 19.

However, this plan was shelved when the governor said: “We are consequently suspending our initially slated reopening of places of worship, after careful engagement with religious leaders, analysis of data from the field and expert opinions.

“We have had robust engagements with the religious leaders – Christian Association of Nigeria and the League of Imams and Alfas. I must thank them for their forthrightness, cooperation and even appreciation that the curve of the spread of the pandemic is worsening and that places of worship represent most potent fertile grounds for the spread of the deadly virus.

“After a careful review of the data, feedback from the field, expert opinions, and lessons from far and near, two major conclusions are very clear and obvious to all, First, the COVID-19 situation in Ogun State and indeed in the country as a whole has not improved since the last update. Secondly, there are dire consequences in loss of human lives for premature relaxation of the guidelines, necessitating a rollback of the relaxation in a number of states and countries. Unfortunately, guidelines may be rolled back, the lost human lives cannot be rolled back,” he said.

Recall the state plays a major host to several headquarters of religious organisations which had closed down after the state’s directives.

Meanwhile, as the governor frowns at commuters and motorists for disregarding the social distancing and face mask order, religious institutions, despite its closures, have been seen organising services and ceremonies.

Investigations revealed that some religious organisations still hold secret services and meetings on Fridays and Sundays with a gathering of over 30 worshippers as against the order by the government.

Other reports gathered revealed that ceremonies and celebrations are being held in some rural areas, without permission by the state, attracting large crowds who gather for felicitation.

Some of these celebrations include naming ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, promotions, retirements and deaths.

Venues for these celebrations and gatherings are picked far-off the state’s major areas, roads and checkpoints, so as to prevent attracting the state task force or security operatives.

However, with a constant increase of active cases in the state, the government is yet to announce a punishment or fine on religious organizations who are caught flouting the law, giving them the freedom to continue.

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