The Kwara State Government on Friday cancelled the forthcoming Eid-el-Kabir or Sallah prayer ahead of the July 31 festivities.
Kwara Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Technical Committee on COVID-19, Kayode Alabi, said this while briefing newsmen in Ilorin.
Alabi described the cancellation as a tough decision made in the interest of everyone.
According to him, in the past few days, the state government has held meetings with different stakeholders in the state on the way forward, “in our collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The cancellation of the Sallah prayer is necessitated by the spike in the COVID-19 cases in the state.
“Of course, the upcoming Ileya festival is a special period for our people.
“As it stands today, Kwara has 707 confirmed cases, out of which 449 are active.
“We have successfully managed and discharged 244 patients and we lost another patient yesterday, that brings to 15 the number of casualties from the pandemic in our state.
“We recorded 56 per cent of our total confirmed cases between July 9 and July 23, increase in the number of patients now requires intensive care to survive.
“This points to a grim situation that requires drastic measures.
“For this reason, the government has consulted widely with religious, labour, transport workers and market leaders, and has taken the following measures in the overall interest of the people.
“The huge numbers that are expected to gather for the special Eid prayers may lead to a spike in the coronavirus cases and potential deaths.
“The government, in consultation with the Council of Ulamah under His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, Dr Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, hereby cancels congregational Eid prayers for 2020 across the whole state.
“There will be Friday prayers as have been restored, but in strict compliance with the rules of physical distancing and the use of face masks.
“The Kwara Mall (ShopRite), the Amusement Park, all shops, the Unilorin Zoological Garden and markets are to be shut on the Eid day and the day after it.
“Following consultations with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the government hereby announces the suspension of vigils until further notice and church services should also not exceed two hours, with full compliance with the safety measures in place.”
The Representative of the Council of Ulamah, the Imam Imale of Ilorin, Sheikh Abdullah AbdulHameed, reaffirmed the the state government’s worries and urged the people to abide by the directives on the Eid.
“The government has our full support accordingly and we urge our people to abide by the directives,” AbdulHameed said.
The Representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Moses Popoola, expressed the support of the association for the government’s directives.
Popoola said such decisions, including the one on vigil, were taken to save human lives.
The Commissioner of Police in Kwara State Kayode Egbetokun, said the security agencies would enforce the directives, urging residents in the state to comply.
Egbetokun said: “It is really not about arrest.
“This is about human lives.
“All of us have a role to play in enforcing the directives and combat this pandemic.
“I want to state, however, that we will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute violators.”