Many Nigerians on social media are lambasting the worshippers at the Agege Central Mosque for allegedly attacking the Lagos State's COVID-19 Taskforce mandated by the government to monitor and enforce compliance against public gatherings exceeding 25 people.
Allnews reports that speaking on the incident, the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and leader of the Taskforce, Dr. Dolapo Fasawe condemned the attack and described it as barbaric and uncalled for, saying “our people are out to protect the residents of the State and yet were attacked for doing their jobs”.
She stated that the State Government will not hesitate to sanction violators to serve as a deterrent to others, adding that it was obvious the gathering did not comply with the directive of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on public gathering and social distancing.
According to her, Taskforce 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 Ishai) in a large congregation, contrary to the directive on total lockdown to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
“However, 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”, she disclosed.
Fasawe revealed that the Agency has been enjoying support and compliance from religious houses and was surprised that the congregation of a mosque that was visited last week could default and also attack government officials trying to enforce compliance.
According to her, “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”.
While noting that the State Government remains committed to protecting all residents, Dr. Fasawe promised to escalate the matter to appropriate quarters because such gathering should not be allowed to continue in the interest of all.
In his own remark, the Director-General, Lagos State Safety Commission and Co-Leader of the Taskforce, Lanre Mojola observed that the leadership of the two prominent religion in the State had been adequately sensitised and carried along in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But we won’t relent, we will continue to appeal to our people to heed advice. Prayers can be observed at home, businesses can be resuscitated but this deadly virus is dangerous if not well managed and timely controlled. If not for us, but for our families, friends and neighbours, let us do the needful and observe safety measures at all times,” he added.
Majola, therefore, implored all Lagosians to comply fully with the directive as the present administration will not hesitate to apply the law when necessary.
Meanwhile, efforts by Allnews to reach the authorities of the said mosque proved abortive.
Hence, Allnews couldn't get their side of the story as at the time of publishing this report.
Recall that the Lagos State Special Taskforce on COVID-19 was recently inaugurated by the State Government to enforce the executive orders toward curtailing the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
See some reactions from Twitter users below:
It's ignorant, Islam support Muslims to pray at home when there's epidemics or war, they should be arrested and prosecuted. some of them don't even understand the religion honestly!
— Abdulrazaq.O.M (@ObiMomoh) April 1, 2020
If it is church now they will arrest the pastor mtcheww
— Ike chu ugo (@ikobily) April 1, 2020
Sincerely is real hard to govern Nigerians. Reason our military personnels are always rude and animalistic when relating with the citizens. Moreso, Religion is so many people's opium, yall are drunkards. I'm sure if Mecca was in Nigeria it won't be locked, drunkards will go! #smh
— TeniWealth (@cute_yossy) April 1, 2020
You people should have gone their with soldiers. Lock all of them inside for the next fourteen days. At the end of the fourteenth day, match the imam straight to kirikiri
— hammed musa ?? (@hammedmusa) April 2, 2020
Arrested or not,do you know how many could or would have gone home with the virus? The poor that believed it was rich people's sickness are about to have a time of their lives, psheew.
— kennygee babe (@kennygee_70) April 1, 2020
pls tommorow go with military and kondo , flog everybody out of thst mosque, arrest the imam and mosque management
— olatunde Kazeem (@olatundekazeem) April 1, 2020