The Lagos state novel coronavirus (Covid-19) task force was handed a raw deal by some Muslim worshipers at the Agege Central Mosque, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
The federal and Lagos state governments have banned public gatherings for a period, in order to halt the spread of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation.
Churches, mosques, clubs and bars have been asked to shutter services, movement of persons has been halted; and government enforcement teams have been driving round locked down towns to monitor compliance.
General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and leader of the state’s task-force, Dr. Dolapo Fasawe, said her team spotted the Muslim faithful observing their evening prayer (Solatul Eshai) in a large congregation, contrary to the directive on total lockdown issued recently.
“However, a drama ensued when some of the Muslim youths sighted the team and became aggressive, unruly and started to attack the team. Others in the mosque, numbering about 300 rushed out chanting ALLAHU AKBAR and joined them in the attack by throwing stones at the vehicles.
“All entreaties to talk to the Imam failed as the youth were persistent. But the police escort rose to the occasion by curbing further attacks and ensuring the safety of the team”, she disclosed.
“The team has visited several places of worship and have been able to enlighten them and advocate the social distancing approach in all gatherings. But in this instance, the mosque was filled to capacity. The essence of social distancing is to curtail the spread of coronavirus. The people are endangering their lives and those of their neighbours,” she added.
The Director-General, Lagos State Safety Commission and Co-Leader of the taskforce, Lanre Mojola said the leadership of the two prominent religious organisations in the state (Islam and Christianity) have been adequately sensitized and carried along in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“But we won’t relent, we will continue to appeal to our people to heed advice. Prayers can be observed at home, businesses can be resuscitated but this deadly virus is dangerous if not well managed and timely controlled. If not for us, but for our families, friends and neighbours, let us do the needful and observe safety measures at all times,” Mojola said.
Lagos has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Nigeria, with 91 persons announced to have received treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba at the time of writing.