Crossover night service: Ondo govt issues warning to CAN
The Christian body in Ondo State under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is on the collision course with the state government over the ban on the crossover service by the state government.
The state government had last Wednesday cancelled the crossover service across the state following the second wave of COVID-19, and as a measure to control the spread.
But the CAN has directed churches in the state to disregard the directives of the government saying churches in the state will hold the traditional crossover night services across the state despite the ban.
However, the Ondo State Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19, on Tuesday lambasted the leadership of CAN for calling on its members to shun government’s directive on crossover night service describing it as dangerously misleading.
In a statement issued by the Chairman of the Committee, Prof Adesegun Fatusi, said such directive coming from CAN’s chairman is highly uncalled for and misleading, expressing disappointment in the leadership of the body.
He described as embarrassing for anyone in a position of leadership in the civil society, including religious leaders to openly call on citizens to disobey government’s public health orders, saying the counter directive of Oladapo will put the health of the people of the state at risk.
The statement said, “the evening and night of December 31st marks the end of the year for all people and not for any religious group and in the face of the threat of the second wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria, all individuals and groups – whatever their religious leaning maybe – have a duty to celebrate the events marking the entry into a new year sensibly, responsibly and safely to ensure that they do not put the health of other citizens at risk.
“While the prerogative to obey or disobey laws is that of individuals and groups, the responsibility to enforce laws is that of the government, and individuals/groups who chose to willfully disobey the government’s duly approved regulations, laws, and orders must be ready to face the consequences, including the penalty specified in section 18 of the Ondo State COVID-19 Emergency Prevention Regulation.
“The Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19, recognising the need to further strengthen health education, community mobilisation, and stakeholders’ engagement as part of the strategies to control COVID-19 infection has scheduled, beforehand, to meet with religious leaders (Christians, Muslims, and other religions) before 31st December 2020 to discuss more on the recent control measures on COVID-19 and the ways forward.
“The Committee hopes that all invited religious leaders will duly attend the meeting where the rationale behind the recent COVID-19 measures would be explained in detail and they will be equipped with relevant information to enable them to assume a greater leadership role in educating their congregations and guiding them aright.
“Health and safety come first: The Inter-Ministerial Committee hereby expresses her deep appreciation to all God-fearing and genuinely caring religious leaders who continue to demonstrate a high-level dedication to the health and well-being of their congregation by constantly observing the COVID-19 protocols at their services.
“We also deeply appreciate the efforts of Christian leaders who had acted responsibly and responsively to inform their branches and members of the subsisting curfew and encouraged them to follow the government’s orders.”
The state government urged the people of the to celebrate the end of the year with a deep sense of responsibility and a strong commitment to safety.
The government also called on the people to resist any call by anyone, no matter how highly placed, for them to disobey government health order, saying there are legal penalties, including fines and jail terms as specified in the Ondo State COVID-19 laws for people who disobey government’s order.