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Benue makes U-turn, reinstates ban on religious gatherings

Benue makes U-turn, reinstates ban on religious gatherings
May 23
14:36 2020
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The Benue state government has reversed its decision to lift the ban on religious gatherings.

On Thursday, Samuel Ortom, governor of the state, lifted the ban on gatherings in churches and mosques as well as other public gatherings.

But speaking with journalists at the government house in Makurdi, the state capital, on Saturday, the governor announced a reversal of the decision, saying churches and mosques should be closed henceforth.

Ortom said the decision is in line with the directives of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to further check the spread of COVID-19.

He said his administration won’t endanger the lives of the people, hence the need to reverse its earlier decision.

“We are a component part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we appreciate the fact that the federal government is the custodian of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and they are informed about what is going on, and so we must subject ourselves to their decision in accordance with laws of the land,” he said.

“We do not want to endanger the lives of our people. In the event of any challenge concerning this pandemic, the next port of call will be the federal government, so we cannot kick against its advice. We feel that the advice is genuine. If we took a decision and we have this kind of advice that is genuine and meant to support the health of our people, we have no reason whatsoever to go ahead with the decision we earlier took.

“I appreciate Benue people. I thank them. I also appreciate the concern of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Benue state chapter and the Muslim community; but you cannot attend church service or mosque when you are dead so we will secure lives first.

“Therefore, on behalf of the state executive council, I hereby reverse the lifting of ban on churches and mosques services and prayers. We have reverted to the status quo where churches, mosques, and other public places like markets were closed.”

This development is coming amid preparation for Eid celebration on Sunday.

Ortom said there will no congregational prayers in the state, adding that any form of gathering should not exceed 30 persons.

“There will be no church services or mosque prayers where people will gather. Same restrictions cover burials, weddings and other public gatherings which number must not exceed 30 persons as we said earlier,” he said.

“And we will require everyone to appreciate the fact that coronavirus is real and deadly and there is no cure yet, but there are preventive measures put in place by health experts.”

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