KATSINA State government has lifted the suspension of Friday Muslim prayers imposed nationwide as part of the measures introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic under pressure from Islamic organisations.
Across Nigeria, Christian and Muslim gatherings have been banned as part of the social distancing policy aimed at curtailing the spread of the dreaded Covid-19. However, many die-hard clerics have defied the ban and have been holding services, forcing the authorities to seal some churches and mosques in Lagos and Abuja.
In Katsina State in particular, the opposition to the van has been fierce as last week, irate youths burnt down a police station in Kusada town after they were prevented from holding their usual Friday Jumat prayers. Now, under pressure from Islamic clerics, Governor Aminu Masari has lifted the suspension, meaning that prayers will hold across Katsina State tomorrow.
Alhaji Mustapha Inuwa, the secretary to the Katsina State government, said: “Following a meeting held today between the Katsina State government, religious leaders, traditional rulers and security agents to review some measures taken by the government to prevent spread of covid-19 in the state, the executive governor has directed that the suspension of Friday prayers be lifted with immediate effect. However, the prayers will be conducted under some stipulated health and security guidelines.
“The Jumu’at imams should, however, avoid prolonged sermons in order to discharge their followers within the shortest period. People are also strongly advised to maintain social distancing and adhere strictly to all the rules and regulations provided by the health experts in fighting the contagious disease.”
This lifting of restrictions are bound to baffle health authorities and frustrate the likes of the World Health Organisation that is fighting to combat the spread of Covid-19. Even in Saudi Arabia the home of Islam, religious sites like the Kaaba and the cities of Mecca and Medina have been shut and sealed off.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is from Katsina State and the decision of his home state government, defying his own directives must come as a huge embarrassment to him. It is not yet clear if the president will overrule Governor Masari as the development could lead to a spread of the pandemic across Nigeria.