Thursday, 23 April 2020

Covid-19: How churches still congregate in Calabar despite gov't prohibition

Sir Benedict B. Ayade the Executive Governor of Cross River State 
23 April 2020 

According to reliable sources some Christian denominations/sects especially in Cross River still congregate defying government disposition against it in view of the contagious nature of the ravaging pandemic, COVID-19. 

Fidelis Duker the CEO of FAD 93.1FM, a private radio station in Calabar the state capital has disclosed that the trend among Christian denominations is such that they meet in two ways: between 3.30AM and 6.30PM, and 5AM and 6.45AM on Sundays. 

Duker who described the church meetings as illegal said the action of these religious leaders is dangerous to society. He added that the State Government should enforce strict prohibitions of large gatherings while presuming that there are asymptomatic cases of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 who are currently roaming around Calabar and infecting others. 

Duker: 'The trend now in Calabar metropolis amidst the COVID19 PANDEMIC nationwide is for Some churches to organise their church services as against the ORDER of the government prohibiting any form of congregation. 

'There are two major mode for this illegal church services which seeks to endanger lives. 

'Mode 1
Church members congregate at 10pm/11pm on Saturday night. Sleep till 3pm inside the church and commence their service at 3.30am and by 6.30pm they are over and you see them going home in their numbers before sane people wake up. 

'Mode 2
Others start such service at 5am and by 6.45am they are over.  

'The actions of this set of pastors and their members negates the social distancing rules and further endanger innocent lives. I presume there are several asymptomatic cases moving around to Calabar and the state in general, possibly spreading the virus. 

'Importantly the government must as a matter of importance and urgency  enforce the prohibition of public gatherings law especially with churches who are not complying with the ORDER. If the enforcement is not taken serious by the government at this stage of  community transfer; then we must brace up for the impending danger.  I must say if not addressed, the impact may overwhelm the state', his statement reads in part.

Another twist to this ugly development is that, in some instances, it is not churches (with large population) that congregate but churches with relatively small congregations. Our correspondent confirmed recent incident of a church with an average population of about 150 persons along Palm Street in the state capital city meeting as early as 6AM to terminate her service by 9AM. About two weeks ago, our correspondent received a call from an anonymous source reporting that some smaller churches were still meeting. There is a church in 8 Miles that still meets. He said 'there is a church (name with held) in Ikot Ansa that meets on Sundays by 5AM and terminates her service by 6:54AM. Even in Calabar South churches still meet', the source concluded.

NEGROIDHAVEN had reported that the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN had urged religious leaders to discontinue public, large gatherings in keeping with government prohibition. 

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