Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State says churches, mosques and other worship centres are to remain shut while the government reviews suggested guidelines on the reopening of religious centres in the state.
Abiodun gave the directive on Friday at a news conference in Abeokuta.
The governor explained that the government had recently taken written submissions and met with religious leaders on Thursday to discuss modalities for the reopening of worship centres.
He added that the meeting had agreed that a sub-committee, inclusive of the religious leaders, should review the submissions and the discussions to enable government arrive at a composite framework for the gradual lifting of the ban.
Abiodun stated that the committee is expected to submit its report on or before June 12.
He said he would unveil the reports and suggested guidelines of the committee to the public in his next briefing.
“The June 12 deadline for the submission of the guidelines is to enable the gradual opening of religious activities to tentatively commence on June 19, subject to the review of preparedness by our churches and mosques to the new normal,” he said.
Continuing on the fallout of the Thursday meeting, Abiodun said a task force, comprising of the religious leaders, government and security agencies, would be established to monitor and ensure compliance with the agreed guidelines for religious activities.
He said: “Any place of worship that violates the guidelines will be closed.
“The guidelines will be reviewed at regular intervals based on developments, including expert opinions and data from the field.”
Abiodun warned that the existing guidelines put in place to combat COVID-19 in the state remained operational.
He gave assurance that the state government would continue to engage stakeholders and intensify enlightenment and education of the public on the various guidelines to combat the pandemic in the state.
He said: “We have continued to be encouraged about our approach, that is deliberate, methodical and well-thought out.
“Not only are the outcomes commendable, we have continued to receive commendations.
“As recent as Tuesday, a team of Presidential Task Force was in Ogun State and after the visit applauded our approach, especially keeping a sharp focus on Primary Healthcare Delivery system, despite the efforts to combat COVID-19.
“Therefore, our steady, cautious and focussed approach is our strength and it does work.
“Government does not derive any pleasure from asking for more time to free the space.
“It is both a moral and constitutional responsibility for us to ensure the welfare, wellbeing, wellness and security of all our citizens.”