FCTA Insists On Non-Opening Of Worship Centres

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  • Awaits expert medical advice

BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, says only expert medical advice and guidelines from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 will dictate the opening of religious houses and worship centres in the nation’s capital.

Advancing reasons why worship centres within the territory still remain shut, Mallam Bello said for now inputs from medical experts and PTF’s guidelines strictly favour the current extended two weeks lockdown

The Minister spoke at a meeting between the FCTA and representatives of Christian and Muslim communities in the territory, led by Chairman, FCT chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr Samson Jonah and Chairman, FCT League of Imams Initiative, Dr Tajudeen Mohammed Bello Adigun.

Mallam Bello, who explained that the advice and precautionary measures still cover restriction on religious gatherings, said; “Based on the guidance of the medical experts and consultations with highest authority, the Presidential Task Force gave a decision and communication on the fact that all the measures approved two weeks ago be extended for another period of time to enable organisations, individuals and all of us plan for a gradual opening up of the society”

He said the stakeholders’ meeting fully acknowledged the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was ensuring security of lives.

Mallam Bello admitted that following close monitoring of reports from health authorities, indications are that after nine weeks of the pandemic and attempts to curtail its spread, not much has changed in terms of positive containment of the deadly virus.

The Minister said decisions by the FCT Administration to fully re-open the territory for economic, religious, business and social activities would be based on experts’ counsel that presently are opposed to such risky moves.

According to him, given the present situation of things, leaders of religious organisations agreed to work towards eventual opening up of worship places in line with timelines as determined by the PTF, based on medical advice.

Mallam Bello said in the interim a team comprising representatives of the religious organisations and their leadership, as well as the FCTA officials has been setup to consider modalities and protocols of operating places of worship when the FCT lockdown is eventually relaxed.

The Minister said with lessons learnt during the height of insecurity in the country when religious places were targets for terrorists, the FCTA will not find it difficult adopting necessary modality to aid the re-opening of worship centres soon.

Among the protocols being considered for adoption when places of worship eventually re-open, include strict adherence to the use of face masks; compulsory hand washing; and social distancing by the worshippers

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