Worshippers at Agege Central Mosque who on Wednesday allegedly attacked agents of Lagos State government, enforcing the on-going presidential lockdown, have been roundly condemned by senior government officials.
The alleged infraction has also been widely condemned on social media.
The lockdown enforcement officials were said to be doing their rounds when they discovered that the gathering at the mosque breached both the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on lockdown and social distancing, aimed at slowing down the spiking coronavirus infection in the state as well as Ogun State and Abuja.
A statement issued by the spokesperson of the enforcement team, Mrs. Bola Ajao, claimed that the mosque was packed to the hilt, contrary to the social distancing regulation of the state government, which was also supported by the central government.
According to her, backed with photographic evidence, about 300 worshippers crammed into the mosque when the officially-sanctioned for any gathering for now, is maximum, 25 people.
Ajao who is the head of the media unit of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, says the worshippers trooped out against the enforcement team, shouting Allah Akbar, while going for anything official, at sight.
According to her, “The Lagos State COVID-19 Taskforce was yesterday attacked by Muslim worshippers at the Agege Central Mosque. The team saw the Muslim faithful observing their evening prayer (solatul ishal) in a large congregation contrary to the directive of total lockdown order of President Muhammad Buhari in order to stem the tide of the pandemic.
“The enforcement exercise which was carried out by the Lagos state Special taskforce on COVID-19 consisting of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) Lagos Safety Commission, the Rapid Respond and the Taskforce, was inaugurated to enforce the executive orders, towards controlling the coronavirus spread in the state.
“A drama however ensued, (when) at the sight of government officials, the youth became aggressive and unruly with targeted attacks on the officials. The crowd numbering about 300 rushed out of the mosque, chanting ALLAH Akbar and started throwing g stones and hitting the vehicles. All entreaties, to talk to the Imam, failed as the youth were unabated. The police were able to curtail the atmosphere (ugly situation) and ensure safety of the team.
“The agency has been enjoying support and compliance from religious houses and was surprised that a mosque that was visited last week could default and also launch attack on government officials.
“The team has visited several places of worship and has been able to enlighten them and advocate the social distancing approach in all gathering, regardless of number of people present (25 people maximum).
“General manager LASEPA, Dolapo Fasawe condemned the attack and described it as barbaric and uncalled for, saying our people were out to protect the lives of the residents of the state and yet attacked for doing their jobs, adding that the state would not hesitate to sanction violators to serve as deterrent to others.
“It was obvious the gathering did not comply with the executive order. The mosque was filled to capacity. The essence of social distancing is to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. The people are endangering their lives and those of their neighbors. The government has a duty to protect the lives of the people” she said.
“She promised to ensure that appropriate quarters take up the matter, adding that such gathering should not be allowed to continue in the interest of all.
“On his own part, the DG Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola observed that the leadership of the two prominent religions had been sensitized and carried along in the fight against this COVID-19, adding that, ‘We wont relent, we continue to appeal to our people to heed the advice given. Prayers can be observed at home, businesses can be resuscitated but this deadly virus is dangerous if not well managed and timely controlled. If not for us, but for our families, friends and neighbors, let us do the needful and observe safety measures at all times, regarding where we are.’
“He further called for total compliance of the directive as the state won’t hesitate to apply the (relevant) provision of the law if need be” the statement concluded.