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Onyebuchi Ezigbo Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the federal government to deploy all necessary resources to ensure that Chairman of CAN, Nasarawa State, Bishop Joseph Masin, was freed unconditionally from his captors.
Thisi is as the body in Kaduna State appealed to Governor Nasir el-Rufai to consider reopening worship centres in the next review of lockdown procedures so that normal church services could resume.
The bishop in Nasarrawa was kidnapped on Wednesday night, by some gunmen who stormed his residence in Bukan-Sidi, Lafia metropolis, and are demanding N20m ransom.
In a statement issued on Friday by Assistant (Media and Communications) to the CAN President, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the body demanded immediate release of Bishop Joseph Masin from his captors.
It called for immediate release of Leah Sharibu and all Nigerians in the captivity of terrorists
The Christian association also asked the federal government to ensure end to the ongoing genocide in Southern Kaduna and other states in the country where similar detestable crimes were ongoing.
“Since we have no Police of our own and we are trying as much as possible to avoid chaotic situations, we are placing a demand on the federal government and the Nasarawa State Government to ensure the safety and immediate release of Bishop Masin before it is too late.
“We will not accept losing another state Chairman like we lost the late CAN Chairman, Rev. Lawan Andimi, in Adamawa State, who was gruesomely murdered by terrorists while our security agencies appeared powerless, helpless and de-robbed of their armor,” it said.
CAN said that it was disheartening, disappointing, and reprehensible, how terrorists, herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits have been operating in the country, killing and maiming innocent citizens unabated.
“This is totally unacceptable and demeaning to the prowess of this great country which is generally styled as the Giant of Africa. It is only in Nigeria that we are having mass burials when we are not in a civil war.
“This kind of non-responsive situation can easily lead to a breakdown of law and order and must be consciously avoided by a positive responsiveness of our leaders.
“Just a few days ago, some hoodlums in the guise of Fulani herdsmen invaded some predominantly Christian communities in Kaduna State, killing the innocent people and up till now, no one has been brought to book.
“Everyone knows that it is the primary responsibility of government anywhere in the world to protect the lives and property of its citizens, but this has become history in Nigeria. This should not be.
“In view of the above, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is making demands of the Government as follows: Immediate release of Bishop Joseph Masin from his captors and Immediate release of Leah Sharibu and all Nigerians in the captivity of terrorists and kidnappers,” it said.
Chairman of CAN in Kaduna, Rev. Joseph Hayab, while pressing for resumption of worship in a letter addressed to the governor, said the association had come up with guidelines for worship regulations in accordance with the protocol of COVID-19.
Kaduna had been under lockdown for over 60 days as part of efforts to contain the spread of deadly disease.
The state government recently reviewed the lockdown, extending it two weeks and increasing the window period for residents to restock foodstuffs from two to three days each week.
CAN, in a letter dated May 28, 2020, appealed to the governor to take into consideration days for religious worship in the next review of the lockdown.
The letter said CAN was anticipating that future adjustment for relaxing the lockdown “will take into consideration days for religious worship.”
“In view of the above, we wish to forward to you our suggested guidelines for worship regulations in accordance with the protocol of COVID-19,” the said.
The guideline, according to the letter, includes disinfection of churches before they are re-opened for services.
CAN said: “Churches will provide alcoholic based sanitisers, temperature readers, soap and water in their premises to be supervised by medical professionals in the church.
“Every worshipper must either use soap to wash their hands or apply sanitisers.
“The temperature of every worshipper must be taken before admission into the church and people with the high temperature will not be allowed into the church but be advised to go and see their doctors.
“Every worshipper must wear facemask. Worship leaders shall be made wear hand cloves if they are to handle equipment such as the microphone
“Worship leaders shall put on face mask to cover their mouth and nose when they speak through the microphone
“Worshippers shall be required to avoid joining public transport, therefore, shall be enjoined to worship near home, within walking distance
“Worshippers who have to travel far to church will be enjoined to make use of personal means of transport
“Alternatively, churches would be enjoined to provide transport for members without means of transport in adherence to the social distancing rules.
“Social distancing will be observed in the sitting arrangement with one-meter gap between two worshippers.
“Every worship service shall not exceed one hour. There will be a gap of 25 or 30 minutes between one service and another where there are multiple services to avoid crowd…”