18th June, 2020
DELAY OPENING OF SCHOOLS, CHURCHES & MOSQUES – MURIC
The Federal Government (FG) on Tuesday 16th June, 2020 advised state governments to delay the resumption of schools until further notice. In another development, the Lagos State Government (LASG) yesterday suspended its decision to permit churches and mosques to commence their religious services.
Meanwhile the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has thrown its weight behind the two decisions. The Islamic human rights association supported FG on the need to delay the resumption of schools. It also endorsed LASG’s decision to postpone the opening of churches and mosques.
MURIC said, “We are on the same page with the Federal Government (FG) on the need for states to delay the resumption of schools. The stakes are still very high and the coast is still not clear. Beijing opened its schools a few weeks ago but it ordered their closure yesterday Wednesday 17th June, 2020 after the deadly COVID-19 made a come-back in China (https://www.foxnews.com/world/beijing-closing-schools-colleges-over-coronavirus-outbreak).
“The closure of schools weeks after they had been opened in Beijing has negative psychological impact on students and their parents. It is also capable of portraying the authorities as uncoordinated. A communist enclave like China can damn the political fallout but not in Nigeria where the norm is kindergarten democratic practices and everything here is politicized, including human lives. That is why we cannot afford to make the mistake of opening and closing again like Beijing.
“In like manner, we fully endorse the decision of the Lagos State Government (LASG) to suspend the opening of churches and mosques. The indices are highly unfavourable for opening places of religious assemblies. As at yesterday, Wednesday 17th June 2020, Lagos alone has confirmed 7,461 COVID-19 cases out of the total national figure of 17,148. This represents approximately 44%. Also of the 455 deaths nationwide, 82 occurred in Lagos State (NCDC site shows 107 deaths in Lagos: https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/). This is alarming enough particularly when compared to states like Abia, Ebonyi, Taraba and Benue which have registered zero death.
“Lagos has therefore taken the right step by suspending the reopening of churches and mosques. Even Saudi Arabia yesterday closed all mosques it ordered open two weeks ago. It should be noted that Lagos is a mega-city with a population of more than 17.5 million.
“We appeal to Lagos residents to exercise patience. We must understand that Lagos is the epicentre of this pandemic. There have been reports of deaths of key figures in the state in the last 72 hours and those deaths have been related to the deadly corona virus. A coalition of civil societies against COVID-19 that just concluded a webinar has painted a gloomy picture of the spread of the deadly virus at community level while unconfirmed report says a large number of deaths occurred in Lagos last week.
“We can worship God or Allah from the confines of our homes but we can no longer worship once we are in the graves. It is when we are alive that God needs us to worship Him. Dead men do not and cannot worship. In fact God does not need our worship anymore once we are dead. Death marks the beginning of accounts. So why don’t we stay at home and remain safe in order to be able to continue worshipping and adding positively to our good deeds?
“We must therefore be patient. We do not have to go far looking for God. God is everywhere: in the church, in our offices and our homes. The Bible says, “I am a God who is everywhere…’ (Jeremiah 23:23-33). ‘The eyes of the Lord are in every place…’ (Proverbs 15:3). The Bible says again, ‘God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24).
“Allah occupies all spaces. He is accessible from home, from the mosque and in our workplaces. The Glorious Qur’an says, ‘To Allah belongs the East and the West. He is wherever you turn, for Allah is All-pervading, All-Knowing’ (2:115). Allah is near (Qur’an 2:186). Allah is closer to man than his jugular vein (Qur’an 50:16). Nigerians need to understand their religion and approach it with moderation.
“We appeal to state governments to cooperate with the FG by postponing the resumption of schools. We enjoin Lagos religious leaders and Lagos residents to show understanding by supporting LASG’s decision to suspend the opening of churches and mosques for now. It is not over until it is over.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)