….Some churches did not observe social distancing

By Nnenna Udenze

In line with the directives of the federal government, many churches in Abuja today, Sunday, June 7, 2020 opened their gates and doors for excited worshippers amid caution.

In most of the churches, there were no worship songs as preachers read the gospel and preached to congregants. While some churches visited by our correspondents across Abuja complied with social distancing rules as well as wore face masks and applied hand sanitizers before entering worship halls, others did not comply with the rules.

It was also observed by ALSC correspondents and reporters who went to the churches that many of them were under lock and keys as some faithful that came to church were confused by lack of proper communication on the date of their resumption of worship.

Of all the churches visited in Abuja today, the most impressive was Christ the King Catholic Church located beside Kurudu market along Karu/Jikwoyi/Karshi road.

From the entrance of the gate, those who did not wear masks were turned back. It was the first condition to even get close to the entrance where many church workers stop to conduct other protocols.

At the entrance of the church there were four workers with instruments checking people’s temperature, next is washing of hands and then you are allowed in.

Inside the auditorium of CKC Kurudu, social distancing was highly observed as three people sat in a row that usually took eight worshippers. Everyone inside wore a facemask, compulsorily. Although turnout was relatively low.

The president of the church’s laity council, Martin Ilegomo, told our correspondent that the parish priest, Rev. Father Francis Odigbo and the leadership took time even before the federal government’s directives, to prepare the church for eventual resumption of worship.

Martin Ilegomo said the Catholic Church is a respecter of law and order and cares much about the health of its adherents even as it relies on God for spiritual wellbeing.

Also at the Living Faith and Dunamis churches, both located along Karu/Orozo in Jikwoyi, there was low turnout but with some level of social distancing and other rules.

At the Four-Square Gospel Church Asokoro, the gate of the magnificent church was locked. A member who obviously looked disappointed said he was told church service will resume next Sunday, frowning at the fact that there was no proper communication to that effect, adding that many who came for worship have left, equally dejected.

The same was the case at the Church of Assumption of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja located At Kwame Nkrumah Street, Asokoro which was not opened. However, a gateman who sat with two elderly women said members of the church were properly informed that Sunday worship will resume in the church next week, adding that morning mass and other activities are to resume tomorrow, Monday.

At the very busy Anglican Communion Church, Federal Housing Estate Lugbe, our correspondent could not find anyone to talk to as the church was under lock and key. There was no worship there today, the same with SS Peter and Paul Catholic church Lugbe where worshippers did not show up.

Although worshippers prayed at the Methodist Church located at Wuse Zone 5, by the Neighbourhood Shopping Complex, turnout was very low but the church observed social distancing and other rules.

At the Dominion Chapel Lugbe, turnout was low but the sitting was very impressive as social distancing and other rules were observed. The situation was however different at the Christ Embassy Kapowas, Lugbe where there was no form of social distancing inside the church auditorium as many worshippers did not wear facemask as stipulated.

ALSC tried to speak with relevant authorities whether they made any arrangements to monitor compliance by churches to social distancing and other rules attached by the government when President Muhammadu Buhari approved the reopening of worship centers.

An official of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) who didn’t want his name mentioned because he was not authorized to speak on such matters, said it was not the duty of NCDC to monitor such compliances, adding that at the national level, the Presidential Task-Force on COVID-19 is in charge while states are also empowered to carry out such monitoring and enforcements.

We also tried to find out what the FCT Covid-19 Task Force was doing to ensure compliance to the rules, but several calls made to Ikharo Attah, the chairman of the task force were not taken. He also did not return the calls at the time of going to press.

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