Why places of worship can’t re-open yet in FCT – Minister

The Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has explained why places of worship cannot yet -open in the Territory.

He gave this explanation on Tuesday 19th of May in his Office a briefing following a meeting between the FCTA and representatives of the FCT Christian and Muslim communities led the FCT Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman, Dr Samson Jonah and the FCT League of Imams Initiative, Dr Tajudeen Mohammed Bello Adigun.

According to the Minister, the FCT is guided advise from experts and guidelines from the Presidential Task Force on -19 which had directed all measures approved two weeks earlier be extended for another two weeks and these include the restriction on religious gatherings.

 In the words of the Minister, “based on the guidance of the experts and consultations with highest authority, the Presidential Task Force gave a decision and communication on the fact all the measures approved two weeks ago be extended for another period of time to enable , individuals and all of us plan for a gradual opening of the society”

 According to the Minister, the meeting acknowledged the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to save lives and this involves monitoring very closely from the health authorities which indicate after 9 weeks of the pandemic and attempts to curtail its spread much has changed”

He further explained that all actions on the -opening of the society is hinged on the advice of experts who at the moment do support it.

In the light of this, the Minister continued, the leaders of the religious have agreed to work the eventual opening of worship places at a time to be determined the Presidential Task Force, based on medical advice.

In the interim however, Malam Bello explained, a team consisting of representatives of the religious and their leadership, as well as the FCT has been constituted to  gradually look at what the modalities and protocols of operating places of worship will be  when -19 lockdown of the FCT is relaxed.

He said that such modalities were new considering that certain protocols were put in place at the height of insecurity in the country when religious places were the targets for terrorists.

Therefore certain protocols such as use of face masks compulsory hand washing and social distancing will have to be adhered to when places of worship eventually -open the Minister said.

This, he continued, will also include the identification and placement of modalities for the decontamination of all places of worship adding that these protocols are necessary so that when eventually places of worship are re-opened, they will be done with minimal risks to the worshippers.

The religious leaders in their comments appreciated the efforts of the FCT Administration in the fight against -19 especially in the distribution of palliatives and the meeting agreed that whatever palliatives were available  following the extension of the lockdown will also be re-distributed through the organs and structures of the religious organisations.

The meeting was called at the behest of the religious leaders who requested for the re-opening of places of worship in the FCT, following pressure from their followers.

Also at the meeting were the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary of the FCTA, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, the Acting Secretary of the health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr Mohammed Kawu and other leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities in the FCT.

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