The Kaduna state government has met Islamic clerics in Kaduna as it mulls a decision on whether or not to relax the lockdown in the state for the upcoming Eil-el-Fitr celebration next week.
One of the renowned scholars and cleric at the Monday evening meeting, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a renown Islamic scholar, advised the people of Kaduna state not to allow the day’s celebration to roll back the gains of the almost two months of lockdown in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
He spoke a day after government announced that its court convicted another renowned Islamic cleric and arrested an Army General over COVID-19 lockdown violations.
A Kaduna mobile court convicted Sheikh Yusuf Sambo Rigachukun and his son last Tuesday, for violating the Quarantine Order.
A statement issued by the Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of Kaduna State Aisha Dikko on Monday, said that the duo were arrested at Kaduna State University(KASU) junction, for violating the stay at home order and not wearing face masks.
The Commissioner said that the cleric told the court that he was invited by Kaduna State Media Corporation(KSMC) for a radio program, which explained why he was not observing the lockdown order.
Aisha Dikko said that ‘’Rigachukun and his son were however both charged for not wearing facemasks and were fined N5000 each. In addition, the court asked the cleric to perform community service, by informing the public on how to stop the spread of Covid-19.’’
The statement which warned Kaduna residents to desist from violating the lockdown order, further said that the Kakuri mobile court had also arrested an Army General at the ‘’Toll Gate’’ area of Kaduna-Abuja express way last Tuesday.
The Attorney General said that Army officer who was in full uniform, was arrested while driving in from Abuja with three other passengers who had no face masks.
According to her, ‘’the General identified himself and said he was coming from Abuja and on an official duty. However, the court tried and convicted the other three passengers, for not complying with the stay at home order and wearing face masks.’’
The Islamic scholar who made gave this advise while speaking to news men shortly after Governor Nasir El Rufai met with some clerics in Government House on Monday evening, pointed out the Eid celebration comes up only once in a year.
According to Gumi, the rate of COVID-19 infections and related deaths are fewer in Kaduna state because of the proactive actions that Governor El Rufai took from the onset of the pandemic, advising that Nigeria is unlike Saudi Arabia where crowd can be controlled in places of worship.
‘’Once you allow people to come and pray, they are going to troop out in thousands you cannot control. And the point is that we have stayed for over two months under lockdown. We are afraid that one single day will come and spoil all the gains that we had.
‘’Kaduna is one of the states that has the least infection rates. We can see deaths in hundreds, in all the core-northern states like Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Yobe, Borno. But Alhamdulillah, because Kaduna had gone into lockdown earlier than all the states, we have less infection rates than the other states. Nobody can deny this fact,’’ he said.
The sheikh said that the Islamic scholars and clerics merely advised the government on measures to take but it is left for the administration to take whatever decision that it deems fit. He however said that he will be okay with any decision that the government takes regarding the Eid celebrations.
Gumi, who is also a medical doctor, advised people to be their brothers’ keepers in these testy times, adding that government will soon give out palliatives to vulnerable people in society.
The Islamic scholar, a retired military officer, argued that it is ‘’important that political leaders consult other sectors of the society, religious leaders, traditional leaders, professionals, on issues that concern the state. ‘’
Gumi said that they had fruitful discussions and everyone at the meeting gave useful advice but that no decision was taken during the two-hour deliberations, adding that it is ‘’the leader is the one who decides. ‘’
According to him, el Rufai ‘’assured us that he is doing things in the interest of the citizens. He has no personal gain in the lockdown. In fact, he also emphasised that the state makes more money when he opens markets. But he had to close them because human lives are more precious.”
Meanwhile, Aisha Dikko explained further said that 75 culprits were convicted out of the 105 people who violated the ban on inter-state travel at the border between Kaduna state and the Federal Capital Territory, as well as the Kaduna-Katsina state border last week.
The statement said that the culprits were apprehended by senior officials of Kaduna State Government who were patrolling the borders and handed over to the violators to the various mobile courts.
Aisha Dikko who warned against the violation of the Coronavirus(COVID-19) Partial Lockdown Order 2020, reminded that offenders shall be fined and in addition, may undergo community service for seven days.