By Uchenna Ugwu
Abakaliki – A Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki, Rev. Fr. Livinus Obijiofor, on Sunday warned the faithful to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 rules and regulations provided for worships to avoid being sent out of the church premises.
Fr. Obijiofor, the Parish Priest of St. Patrick, Kpirikpiri, Abakaliki, gave the warning in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abakaliki.
NAN reports that the cleric was reacting to a report that some individuals had refuse to abide by the guidelines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while attending Mass.
Obijiofor disclosed that some persons were asked to put on their face masks while in the church, but refused to obey the church wardens’ instructions.
“I was told that some persons refused using their face masks and were really adamant in observing the rules.
“But, I had announced to the church today that in subsequent Sunday Masses, any defaulter who fails to abide by the rules made available for safety will be sent out of the church’s gate,” he warned.
Meanwhile, the priest expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance on physical and Social distancing, hand washing, use of sanitisers and face masks by many of the faithful.
He said that the church had directed that only three or four persons would be allowed on a pew depending on the length of the pew to maintain physical distancing.
He said the church had decided to celebrate Masses simultaneously at different locations in the church premises following its population.
“Since we have crowd in the parish, Masses will be held simultaneously in the church house, some under trees and open fields to observe the social distancing and allow people have available Masses.
“We will have first and second Masses at 9am and 10am,” Obijiofor said.
He pleaded with the faithful to always follow instructions provided for safety to avoid spread of the virus, adding that it was better for the society and the nation at large.
Earlier, the Chief Security Officer of the church, Mr Solomon Nwafor, said that two security outfits of the parish were putting more efforts to ensure compliance of the federal and state governments’ directives.
He said the two security outfits were Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON), and Men of Order and Discipline (MOD).
NAN reports that the church maintained the rules and observed time for church service given by the state government.
NAN recalls that the state government had lifted the ban on worship centres across the state with effect from May 15.
With the reopening of worship centres, all churches would observe their services or Masses only on Sundays from 9.am to 11.am.