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27 May 2020

NSCIA raises panel, CAN meets on worship centres’ reopening

The Christian Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs have begun work on guidelines, which will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in churches and mosques after the reopening of worship centres in the country.

The apex Islamic and Christian groups in the country, which stated this in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said the guidelines would be submitted to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for review and advice.

The NSCIA specifically stated that a committee it set up was working on the guidelines.

Also, there were indications on Tuesday that CAN would on Wednesday hold a virtual meeting on guidelines for Christian worship centres.

A top official of the association,said there would be consultations among blocs in CAN during the online meeting on Wednesday on the issue.

The Director General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had on Thursday at the press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the Public Transport Owners’ Association of Nigeria had submitted to the NCDC, guidelines to reopen interstate transportation while preventing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

He stated that the agency would review the guidelines and advise the association, whose members were operators of vehicles, popularly known as luxury buses

Ihekweazu, therefore, asked professional groups and faith-based organisations, including churches and mosques, to submit guidelines for reopening to the NCDC to review and advise them.

He stated, “We are working on them (the guidelines) and whenever the NCDC and the PTF are ready, we will surely submit. The highlights are based on the guidelines on how to safeguard our members during the worship with a view to stopping the spread of coronavirus while the worship lasts. It is about the social distancing, soap, water and sanitisers.”

A top official of CAN told Newsmen, on Tuesday evening, that consultations with various groups within the blocs in CAN were ongoing in anticipation of the Wednesday meeting.

He said, “The CAN President, Reverend Supo Ayokunle, is very busy at the moment as he has been having series of meetings with various groups for hours. We are not sure of how long the meeting would last because there are two more groups waiting to meet with him separately this evening.

“This is related to the guidelines on modalities to follow after the lockdown is lifted. There will be clearer picture by tomorrow (Wednesday). After the consultation with the leaders of the blocs in CAN, a virtual meeting would hold. Perhaps, the online meeting on Wednesday (today) would lead to the constitution of a committee that would make recommendation on the final steps to be taken.

“After the meeting, a clear picture will be given. I think the foundation upon which steps to follow would be based is being laid at the moment.”

On his part, the NSCIA spokesman, Ibrahim Aselemi, stated, “A committee has been set up to work out the modalities as requested. I shall make the details known to you as soon as they are okayed by my superiors.”

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