NIGERIAN Muslims came out in their thousands yesterday to celebrate the Eid-El-Fitr celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan fasting months in defiance of a government order that they should mark the event in the privacy of their homes.
Yesterday, Muslims the world over celebrated the end of the holy fasting month but because of the global lockdown, mosques and prayer grounds were shut. In Nigeria, the presidential taskforce on Covid-19, the inspector-general of police and the sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, the president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), urged the faithful to stay at home but this call was defied.
Muslims in Kano, Katsina, Borno, Zamfara and Bauchi states shunned the directive and trooped out en mass to prayer grounds. They also failed to observe health guidelines as social distancing directives were ignored and the majority of the faithful shunned protocols such as the wearing of facemasks.
Last week, the NSCIA deputy secretary-general, Professor Salisu Shehu, said massive gatherings at one Eid ground in a big city should be avoided. he said that rather, the Eid could be performed in area mosques to avoid unmanageable crowds.
Boss Mustapha, the chairman of the presidential task force on Covid-19 also advised against large gatherings of people during the Sallah celebrations. However, in Kano for instance, the Muslim faithful trooped out as early as 8.30am to observe the Eid-el-Fitr prayers at the various praying grounds without complying with the physical distancing order.
Worshippers were asked to wash their hands and use of sanitizers by the staff mandated to enforce hygiene rules. However, some worshippers entered the prayer grounds without washing their hands and using sanitizers.
Some Muslim leaders in the state commended Governor Abdullahi Ganduje for allowing the faithful to observe the Eid prayer despite the federal government’s directive. Sheikh Mohammed Yahya, the chief imam in the Gama area in the Kano metropolis, said the decision to observe the Eid prayers despite the danger was borne out of the fact that ground was one of the places where prayers could be answered.
In Katsina State, the Emir of Katsina, Dr Abdulmumini Usman, was at the Kofar Guga Eid prayer ground where he and many Muslims in Katsina observed prayers to mark the end of fasting. In Maiduguri, the Eid prayers were attended by the Borno State governor Babagana Zulum, at the Ramat Square.
Although efforts were made to maintain social distancing, it was difficult to implement in areas where there were no government officials because of the crowd that thronged the prayer ground. In Bauchi State, the directive of the Sultan of Bauchi asked everyone to wear face masks but this directive was ignored as residents turned up without them and also failed to observe social distancing.