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Just In: Churches May Reopen In June, Says CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria has expressed hope that the ban on religious gatherings in the country may be lifted by the first Sunday of June.

The ban is among the safety precautions in place to combat coronavirus in the country.

CAN President Rev Samson Ayokunle gave the indication in a statement on Wednesday.

He said they had been consulting with the Federal Government on the modalities to follow.

He said if the government did not entertain any fear in opening markets and banks, there would not be any basis to hesitate in opening churches considering the fact that they are more organised than markets and banks.

Ayokunle said, “As a law-abiding institution, the church in Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria that binds all of us together complied, hitherto, with government’s directive suspending church services for the past eight weeks now.

“However, the Church is well prepared for resumption of worship and as one of the most organised institutions in the country with trained leadership and good guidance by the Scripture.

“We are in discussions with the Federal Government and are drawing the guidelines that churches would follow in order not to endanger the life of any worshipper and equally prevent COVID-19 infection.

“We are sure of compliance if the government allows our compliance team to work hand-in-hand with their law enforcement agencies to monitor compliance. If the government didn’t entertain any fear in opening markets and banks which are not as organised as the church, why should government entertain fear about the compliance of the church?

“We are hopeful that latest by the first Sunday in June, all our churches would open again for congregational worship under COVID-19 prevention regulations. As I said before, we are consulting with the government on this.”

Meanwhile, CAN, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 met on Wednesday over the issue.

The CAN delegation was led by the Chairman of its North Central chapter and President of FCT Baptist Conference, Rev. Israel Akanji.

The representatives of the Federal Government were said to have promised to prepare their own recommendations to be presented to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), who would decide the accepted ones and present them to the country in his nationwide broadcast scheduled for next week.

Apart from the usual the guidelines, the NSCIA was said to have asked that worship be held the same hour according to Qur’anic injunctions, but said children would not take part.

A source said, “The PTF and NCDC promised to prepare their recommendations which will be presented to the President, who will decide the accepted ones and present them to the nation in his nationwide broadcast scheduled for Monday.

“All parties agreed that it was time to reopen worship centres,” the source added.

Among the 13 guidelines sent to The PUNCH by Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to Ayokunle, every worshipper must be screened before going into the church hall, while people with high temperature would be advised to see their doctors.

He said, “CAN will constitute a committee together with law enforcement agencies to enforce full compliance.

“The guidelines for the church should be along these suggestions: churches should disinfect their premises first before they are reopened for services. Churches should provide alcoholic sanitisers, temperature readers, soap and water on their premises to be supervised by medical professionals in the church.”

Copyright PUNCH.

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