By Segun James
Following disagreement over modalities and protocols for the reopening of places of worship between the state government and religious leaders, the Lagos state government has said that churches and mosques are to remain closed until further notice.
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, who said this while fielding questions from newsmen as part of the activities commemorating Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s one year in office said the possibility of reopening Churches and Mosques in the state had been ruled out for now.
According to him, “even before the pronouncement by Federal Government, we have been having meeting with the religious leaders, we even had one with safety Commission. Looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.”
The Federal Government had on Monday lifted the ban on Mosques and Churches in the country based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments.
‘’We also had one with the leaders of the two faith and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.
‘’They claimed that they cannot take such responsibility of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them. Like an Imam said he doesn’t know what is going on at the back immediately he is leading a prayer. He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back he is not going to take responsibility for their presence.
‘’So in the meeting we ruled out in totality the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so. The Federal Government mentioned it, but it never ruled out the state in achieving that pronouncement, so all states will have to look at possibility of doing so in their respective states.
‘’We all know Lagos is still having more figures, so definitely that will speak to our decision. But the governor of the state will come out with further directives from that directive. We will call the two faith together and discuss the pronouncement and I can assure you that they themselves will tell us not to do it.’’
The commissioner said the state Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday said the state government has started the process of automating the processing of money lending licences.
He revealed that since the commencement of the process few months ago, it has received 207 applications out of which approvals were granted for 184 applicants.
Elegushi explained that the decision to automate the process of money lending licences in the state was to ensure a hitch-free renewal and fresh applications by prospective applicants.
The commissioner added that only one application had so far been declined by the Ministry while 22 applications were currently being reviewed, stressing that the initiative would henceforth guarantee easy access to loan opportunities to residents of the state and ultimately provide employment for the youths.
According to him, “the initiative is cost effective for grassroots financing and the requirements are simple and straightforward. The forms are available and the processes are very friendly. In addition the automation of the money lending processes would help address several issues of trust that had overtime bedeviled the practitioners.”
Elegushi described the various Money Lenders across the State as the mini-micro economic stimulants that creates jobs, generate wealth, alleviate poverty and widens the tax net, thereby increasing the socio-economic status of the State through the provision of enabling environment for small scale business and entrepreneurship.
He recalled that prior to the automation of the money lending processes; the Ministry had earlier held a Stakeholders’ Forum on the need to examine the laws guiding the activities of money lenders in the state in order to make members of the public repose more confidence in the practitioners