By Victor Ogunje
After five months of closure and the recent lifting of ban on congregations not more than 20 persons by the Ekiti State Government, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has ordered mosques to reopen for services today.
The council, however, insisted that only mosques that meet all the conditions, which include fumigation of premises, provision of infra-red thermometer, hand sanitizers, hand-washing facilities and strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocols would be allowed to open.
The state Governor, Kayode Fayemi, had in a statewide broadcast last week Thursday declared that from all indications, churches and mosques in the state have substantially complied with the provision of some COVID-19 precautionary facilities, and that they would be allowed to open on August 14.
In a statement issued by the NSCIA President, Ekiti State chapter, Alhaji Yakubu Sanni, he said investigation by the religious body confirmed that substantial numbers of mosques operating in the state are ready for reopening.
Before reopening, Sanni advised that “fumigation of the mosques by the ministry of environment is compulsory. Provision of infra-red thermometer and social spacing of six feet apart are also a recommended.
“Individuals should come with their own praying mats and ablution kettles, water to wash hands as well as hand sanitizer. It is advised that anybody besides the Imam above the age of 65 and below the age of 12 should stay away from the mosque.
“The service is expected to start at 1:30 and end at 2:30. Everybody taking part in the prayer should wear face mask. Number of worshippers in the mosque should be determined by the capacity of the space to contain worshippers standing six feet apart.
“It should be ensured that under no circumstances should the worshippers converge to have any meetings or social gathering without maintaining social distancing.
“Mosque management should appoint officials to monitor compliance. May the Almighty Allah bless us as we observe these rules.”
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed displeasure over what it termed stringent conditions spelt out for the reopening of the worshipping centres.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti, the state CAN Chairman, Rev Fr. Peter Olowolafe, said the debarring of people below age 12 and those above 65 from coming to church is a strict condition that can guarantee the smooth reopening of churches.
Outlining the conditions that are attached to the reopening, Fayemi said: “The protocols also indicate that there should be no multiple services, and services must be concluded within two hours, while children below 12 years and elderly people above 65 are not allowed to attend church services or mosque sallat until further notice. An attendance register must be provided by each worship centre to record attendance.
“For avoidance of doubt, only Friday Jumat for Muslims, Saturday Sabbath for Adventists and Sunday Services for other Christian denominations are allowed. Weekly and vigil services are not allowed in the meantime.”