The Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has explained that all actions on the re-opening of society, especially places of worship is hinged on the advice of medical experts who at the moment do not support it.
He gave this explanation recently in his Office during a brief meeting between the FCTA and representatives of the FCT Christian and Muslim communities led by 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 by advise from medical experts and guidelines from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which had directed that all measures approved two weeks earlier be extended for another two weeks and these include the restriction on religious gatherings. “The meeting acknowledged that the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to save lives and this involves monitoring very closely reports from the health authorities which indicate that after 9 weeks of the pandemic and attempts to curtail its spread not much has changed”, he said.
In the interim however, Malam Bello explained, a team consisting of representatives of the religious organisations 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 COVID-19 lockdown of the FCT is relaxed.
He said that such modalities were not 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 re-open”.
The religious leaders in their comments appreciated the efforts of the FCT Administration in the fight against COVID-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.