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COVID-19: Worshippers attack task force in Lagos

The Lagos State COVID-19 task force, assigned to monitor and enforce compliance against public gatherings exceeding 20 people, was last Tuesday attacked by some worshippers…

The Lagos State COVID-19 task force, assigned to monitor and enforce compliance against public gatherings exceeding 20 people, was last Tuesday attacked by some worshippers at the Agege Central Mosque, popularly known as Mosalasi Alhaja.

This was disclosed by the General Manager of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and leader of the task force, Dr. Dolapo Fasawe, who described the act as “barbaric and uncalled for”.

She lamented that the task force were out to protect the residents of the State, yet they were attacked for doing their jobs.

In reaction to this, the Agege Local Government Council has sealed the mosque located at Balogun street, Agege, for violating the state government’s order on religious gathering in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

The mosque was sealed till further notice after a fumigation exercise.

The Agege local government chairman, Alh. Ganiyu K. Egunjobi, said the shutdown became necessary to avert recurrence and serve as deterrent to other erring faith groups or worshippers.

Having had engagement with the leadership of the mosque, including the Sarkin Hausawa, HRH Musa Muhammed, Egunjobi said they resolved to shut down the mosque till further notice.

The drama

Narrating what ensued, Fasawe said: “The task force team COVID-19, comprising of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Lagos Safety Commission and the Rapid Response Squad, saw the Muslim faithful observing their evening prayer (Solatul Eshai) in a large congregation, contrary to the directive on total lockdown to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.

“A drama ensued when some of the Muslim youths sighted the team and became aggressive, unruly and started to attack the team. Others in the mosque, numbering about 300 rushed out chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and joined them in the attack by throwing stones at the vehicles.

“All entreaties to talk to the Imam failed as the youth were persistent. But the Police escort rose to the occasion by curbing further attacks and ensuring the safety of the team.”

Fasawe expressed shock over the action of the worshippers, saying: “The team has visited several places of worship and have been able to enlighten them and advocate the social distancing approach in all gatherings. But in this instance, the mosque was filled to capacity.

“The essence of social distancing is to curtail the spread of coronavirus. The people are endangering their lives and those of their neighbours,” she said, assuring that the state government remains committed to protecting all residents.

She also stated that the state government will not hesitate to sanction violators to serve as a deterrent to others.

The Lagos State Special Task force on COVID-19 was recently inaugurated by the state government to enforce the executive orders toward curtailing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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