Ondo Govt blasts CAN chairman for asking churches to disobey directive on crossover service

Ondo State inter ministerial committee on COVID- 19 has described the statement credited to the State Chairman of the Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Ayo Oladapo that Christains should shun government’s directive on crossover night service as dangerously misleading.

The State Government in a statement issued by the Chairman of the committee, Prof Adesegun Fatusi, said such directive coming from CAN’s chairman is highly uncalled for.

He added that it is misleading for anyone in a position of leadership in the civil society, including religious leaders to openly call on citizens to disobey government’s public health orders.

He said the action of Reverend Oladapo will put the health of the people at risk.

The statement added, “The evening and night of December 31st marks the end of the year for all people and not for any religious group and in the face of the threat of the second wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria, all individuals and groups – whatever their religious leaning may be – have a duty to celebrate the events marking the entry into a new year sensibly, responsibly and safely to ensure that they do not put the health of other citizens at risk. 

“While the prerogative to obey or disobey laws is that of individuals and groups, the responsibility to enforce laws is that of the government, and individuals/groups who chose to willfully disobey the government’s duly approved regulations, laws, and orders must be ready to face the consequences, including the penalty specified in section 18 of the Ondo State COVID-19 Emergency Prevention Regulation.

“The Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19, recognizing the need to further strengthen health education, community mobilisation, and stakeholders’ engagement as part of the strategies to control COVID-19 infection has scheduled, beforehand, to meet with religious leaders (Christians, Muslims, and other religions) before 31st December 2020 to discuss more on the recent control measures on COVID-19 and the ways forward.

” The Committee hopes that all invited religious leaders will duly attend the meeting where the rationale behind the recent COVID-19 measures would be explained in detail and they will be equipped with relevant information to enable them to assume a greater leadership role in educating their congregations and guiding them aright.

“Health and safety come first: The Inter-Ministerial Committee hereby expresses her deep appreciation to all God-fearing and genuinely caring religious leaders who continue to demonstrate a high-level dedication to the health and well-being of their congregation by constantly observing the COVID-19 protocols at their services.

“We also deeply appreciate the efforts of Christian leaders who had acted responsibly and responsively to inform their branches and members of the subsisting curfew and encouraged them to follow the government’s orders”  The state government  urged the people in Ondo State to celebrate the end of the year with a deep sense of responsibility and a strong commitment to safety”.

It also called on the people to  resist any call by anyone, no matter how highly placed, for them to disobey government health order 

The government said there are legal penalties, including fines and jail terms as specified in the Ondo State COVID-19 laws for people who disobey government’s order.