'Closure of churches no longer acceptable,' CAN warns Sanwo-Olu, others

CAN says the church has a spiritual role to play in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has prohibited the reopening of churches in the state even though the Federal Government lifted the ban on religious gatherings in June [Twitter/@jidesanwoolu]

The Christian Association of Nigeria has warned state governments that have failed to allow the reopening of churches to address the situation.

The Federal Government ordered the shutdown of social and economic activities, including churches, in March in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID).

However, the government has started easing many of the restrictions starting in May, including a directive by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 that religious places can reopen starting June 1.

Despite the directive, some states have yet to allow the reopening of religious centres, most notably Lagos which is the epicentre of the coronavirus in Nigeria.

According to a statement by CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, on Tuesday, July 7, the continued closure of churches is no longer acceptable especially since other sectors such as markets have resumed operations.

He said, "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 contact the virus in the markets and airports?"

Governor Sanwo-Olu had previously announced that religious gatherings could resume in Lagos on June 19, but that plan was later suspended due to the rising number of new cases recorded in the state.

However, Ayokunle said in his Tuesday statement that the church has a spiritual role to play in the fight against the pandemic which has infected nearly 11 million people globally.

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