…As Bayelsa seals 6 churches for breaching COVID-19 protocols***
The COVID-19 blanket ban on churches and mosques open activities has finally reached traditional practitioners as the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, on Sunday, banned masqueraders’ dance to his palace and to other chiefs during the 2020 Egungun Festival, due to COVID-19 requirements.
The Olubadan announced this in a statement signed by his Director of Media and Publicity, Mr Adeola Oloko, in Ibadan, and directed the traditional masqueraders to observe their rituals from their respective homes and pray for the speedy end to COVID-19.
According to him, the decision not to have long procession this year is not unconnected with the coronavirus pandemic and the need to observe rules associated with social distancing.
Adetunji stated that the boisterous nature of the festival has made it imperative for all masqueraders to stay at home and perform all necessary rites until the authorities’ declare otherwise.
He said that the decision to ban the dance was reached after extensive consultation with the relevant authorities and stakeholders.
The monarch advised the people to wash their hands, use facemasks and maintain social distancing at all times to curb the spread of the global pandemic.
In a related development, the Bayelsa Government has sealed six churches in the state for breaching ”operational protocols” required to conduct services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state government on May 7, relaxed its restriction on social gatherings and allowed churches to hold services with up to 50 worshipers.
The relaxation was granted, subject to compliance to strict conditions on the provision of handwashing facilities, wearing of face masks and observance of social distancing in the seating arrangements.
Mr Freston Akpor, Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa Ministry of Information, however, told NAN on Monday in Yenagoa, that the Security Sub – Committee of the state’s Task Force on COVID- 19, sealed the churches during its surveillance on Sunday.
“The six churches were sealed for failure to comply with safety measures put in place by the government to contain the spread of the pandemic and protect the people of Bayelsa.
“The affected churches are, Living Faith Church, Igbogene, Salvation Victory Centre, Igbogene, Shalom International Christian Centre, along Tombia-Amassoma road and Great Grace Distinguished Assembly, Okutukutu.
“Others are Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, Opolo and Hebrews International Church, Ayama road.
“The churches will remain sealed until further notice to serve as deterrent to other churches.
“The move will help in ensuring that other churches adhere to the protocols on hand washing, use of face masks and social distancing as measures to check the spread of the virus in the state,” Akpor said.
He said the security sub-committee of the task force on COVID-19, unsealed two churches earlier shutdown for violating safety measures on the pandemic.
Akpor explained that the two churches, the Halleluya Deliverance Ministry International and Embassy Faith churches were unsealed after undertaken to comply with prescribed safety protocols.