Recently, the government revealed plans to ban the use of loud speakers in places of worship, as well as moves to ensure that churches and mosques paid taxes to the state government.
The General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency [LASEPA], Mr Rasheed Shabi said the government viewed this incessant blaring of external loud speakers by religious bodies as nuisance to the society and vowed to stop it.
At a meeting with religious bodies in the state, Mr Rasheed Shabi frowned at the noise pollution going on in churches, mosques and among music recording shops.
He said government would no longer tolerate this, adding that it would soon swing into action to sanction such erring organisations. Shabi said the situation in which religious worship centres situated within residential areas contravenesd the state’s physical planning laws and regulations.
According to him:“Scientific evidence indicates that continuous exposure to noise level above 85 decibels during a normal eight-hour working period represents an unacceptable risk to the hearing and health of those exposed to the noise. It can raise blood pressure, increase heart-beat rates, result in headaches, loss of concentration, reduce quality of work and service, among others.”
The general manager advised religious leaders and record vendors to comply with the directive of the state government to avoid sanctions and eventual closure of such places of worship or business centres. He called on churches and mosques to desist from the use of external speakers, as well as the use of musical instruments during vigils.
Reacting, the Vice Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Lagos state chapter, Rev. Femi Asiwaju, said he would pass the message across to churches under the body.
“As for noise emanating from our churches, we shall inform our members on how best to go about their services without constituting nuisance to their neighbours.”
An Islamic group, Muslim Rights Concern is ferocious about the use of external loud speakers for religious propagation.
President of the group, Dr. Ishaq Akintola said the use of public address system had been grossly abused in churches and mosques particularly in the past 10 years.
According to him, Lagos used to be a sane society where people slept peacefully and researched without let or hindrance, adding that an extraordinary religious overzealousness had gripped Lagosians.
He added that, ‘’This phenomenon constitutes grave peril to sane behaviour, economic growth, productivity, peace, security and religious harmony. The danger in the misuse of loud speakers during worshipping is violent confrontation either by adherents of other religions or by people who are disturbed by the noise.”
While noting that no civilised country in the world allows such confusion in its society, Dr. Akintola said the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), therefore, supported the plan by LASG to inject sanity into Lagos State by placing a ban on the use of loud speakers and musical instruments during religious services.
However, a cross-section of religious leaders in Lagos are not comfortable with the arrangement. Investigations revealed that the PFN has told government that churches are not commercial organisations, hence they should not be asked to pay tax. But they have conceded that pastors who are on salaries should pay tax from the earnings, while those who depend totally on tithes should be exempted. Also, religious groups are meeting over the ban of the mounting of PAS outside the premises of the places of worship, and the rule that banners of crusades and other religious campaigns should no longer be mounted in public places.