Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has explained that places of worship cannot re-open in Abuja yet based on the directives of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
He told a meeting that included representatives the FCT Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman, Dr Samson Jonah and the FCT League of Imams Initiative, Dr Tajudeen Mohammed Bello Adigun that “based on the guidance of the medical experts and consultations with highest authority, the Presidential Task Force gave a decision and communication on the fact that all the measures approved two weeks ago be extended for another period of time to enable organisations, individuals and all of us plan for a gradual opening up of the society”
According to the Minister, the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to save lives, requiring a close monitoring of reports from the health authorities which indicate that after nine weeks of the pandemic and attempts to curtail its spread, not much has changed.
He further explained that all actions on the re-opening of the society is hinged on the advice of medical experts who at the moment do not support it.
The Minister added that leaders of religious organisations have agreed to work towards the eventual opening up of worship places at a time to be determined by the Presidential Task Force, based on medical advice.
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.
The 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 Minister said.
These, he continued, will also include the identification and placement of modalities for the decontamination of all places of worship adding that the protocols were 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 COVID-19 especially in the distribution of palliatives. 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.