Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ogun State Chapter yesterday disputed the state government’s directive suspending crossover services and carnivals for the New Year amid the meteoric rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Ogun CAN noted that the directive of the state government had stoked grave misgiving among churches in all parts of the state, saying the government did not suspend the crossover night service as widely reported.
The Publicity Secretary of Ogun CAN, Rev. Tolulope Taiwo disputed the directive at a session with THISDAY, saying churches in the state had not been banned from holding the cross-over service to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The state governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun had in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, suspended crossover services and carnivals for the New Year in view of the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The governor had, also, directed civil servants to proceed on Christmas and New Year break from Thursday, December 24 to Monday, January 4.
He had directed that all schools in the state remain closed until January 18 while all bars, nightclubs, pubs and event centres, recreational centres in the state be closed down indefinitely.
The governor had said the directives were issued after a meeting between the state government and religious leaders including CAN, the League of Imams and community leaders as measures and guidelines for public health.
But speaking with THISDAY yesterday, Taiwo said that the state government did not actually forbid churches from holding the traditional cross-over night, but only said the event’s attendance should be reduced by 50%.
He said: “There are some misgivings about the issue of a ban placed on cross-over night services in churches in Ogun State. The truth is that the state government did not ban cross-over night services; there was no such asserted order from the government.
“The government only directed the churches to maintain a 50 percent capacity in attendance at cross-over night services, and also asked us to observe all Covid-19 protocols during church services.
“That was the conclusion at the last meeting we held with the state government,” he clarified.
Taiwo added that the state’s CAN was holding a crucial meeting Saturday night, with a view to taking a firm position on the issue, in order to avoid confusion among church goers.
He added that contrary to the federal government curfew, which takes effect from 12:00 a.m. till 6am, Ogun CAN had contacted the state government for a waiver, to make the curfew start after 12:30 am, in deference to the crossover night.
He said the Ogun CAN would issue a statement today (Sunday).
However, THISDAY investigations revealed that the directives had largely been observed in the breach, as most residents carried on as if there were no such orders.
The Christmas celebrations in Abeokuta, the state capital, witnessed bars, event centres and other social gatherings opening in full capacity, despite a supposed Covid-19 scare.
An hotel manager in the Saje area of the state capital, who simply identified self as Abiodun, said, “Most businesses are in huge debt and are on the verge of closing shop.
“So the Yuletide period is an opportunity for damage control, as we need to keep alive. All we can observe is to insist on wearing face masks; we can’t ask customers who are bringing money, which we need badly, to go back.”