Muslim faithful in some parts of the country yesterday ignored the directive by the various state governments on social distancing in order to curtail the spread of COVID- 19 as they thronged the mosques enmass to observe the juma’at prayers. This happened in Kano, Yola and Ughelli in Delta state.
In Kano, although the Kano state government had not issued any order banning the people from attending the congregational prayer in Mosques or Churches, Governor Umar Ganduje had often preached social distancing and even demonstrated it in one of the State Executive Council meetings where they shifted their sitting from the usual Council Chamber to Africa House which was more spacious to observe the social distancing.
A visit to some juma’at mosques in Kano showed that the faithful ignored the social distancing directive. Some of the mosques visited included the Central Mosque in Emir of Kano’s palace, Kofar Nassarawa mosque, and Kofar Gadon Kaya mosque.
A worshipper, Al-Amin Albarra who spoke with Saturday Vanguard said they observed the prayer according to the Islamic teachings and the teachings of the Holy Messenger of Allah and were not observing any social distancing which was not recognized by the teachings.
A reliable source in one of the enforcement agencies told Vanguard that a critical meeting was held with religious leaders over banning of congregational prayers but at the end of the meeting it was resolved that enforcement agencies would be deployed to control the crowd in such places but this has not been effective.
In Ughelli, despite the lockdown order by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, hundreds of Muslim worshippers yesterday defied the order as they gathered at the Okorodafe Mosque for the Juma’at service.
The main Mosque along Isoko Road, also held Jumat service contrary to the social distancing order but the crowd was minimal compared to the Okorodafe Mosque.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had ordered a 14-day lockdown order from Wednesday as a measure to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus in the state”.
Observing the flouting of the lockdown order at Ughelli, a team of policemen who stationed their hilux van at the Okorodafe roundabout to ensure that the lockdown was implemented, watched helplessly as the crowd from the mosque dispersed at the end of the prayer.
Giving reasons why they failed to accost the worshippers for flouting the social distancing order, one of the policemen said they decided to allow them (worshippers) since the prayer was very short as against the normal timing.
The policeman who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Apart from the fact that the service was shorter than usual, we didn’t want to cause any tension, hence we allowed them to be and ensured that they dispersed immediately.”
Similarly, in Yola, Adamawa state capital, there was commotion and breakdown of law and order Friday afternoon when some Muslim faithful attempted to defy the lockdown order to observe the Jumat prayers.
Though some were said to have sustained injuries, but the situation was quickly put under control by the combined taskforce. The clash occurred at about 2:00pm on Friday, when the operatives arrived the Damilu Juma’at mosque to enforce the lockdown order, according to a worshipper. The Damilu mosque, opposite the Air force base, allegedly called for Juma’at prayer in defiance of the lockdown order, imposed by the the government.
Violence erupted when a combined team of law enforcement operatives, stormed the mosque and directed the imam and some top officials of the mosque to suspend the prayers. Irate youths at the prayer ground were said to have violently attacked the operatives, pelting them with stones and metals.
An eye witness said that many worshippers and security men alike, sustained injuries in the violent clash. The police have however denied the claim, saying there was neither violence nor arrest at the mosque.
Spokesperson for the Adamawa police command, Suleiman Nguroje, said no injury was inflicted on any worshipper.
e said, “we were patrolling round the city to monitor compliance with the lockdown order, when we got a distress call that something was happening around Damilu Jumma’at mosque. On getting there, we learnt the imam had earlier told the congregation to disperse because there wouldn’t be Jumma’at prayer today (yesterday). But some youths started shouting ‘Allahu akbar’, causing panic and scare.
“However, our men were timely, so we were able to contain the situation before it degenerated into violence. Therefore, I can confirm to you that no one was injured nor arrested as claimed”, he said. (Saturday Vanguard)