ONDO, Nigeria – The Ondo State Government has reiterated that it will not hesitate to sanction any pastor or church that will defile its directive as regards the ban on crossover service in the state.
The State Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 while reacting to directive by the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the state, Rev John Oladapo that the body is unaware of the directive, urged residents of the state, particularly Christians to resist any call by anyone, no matter how highly placed, for them to disobey government health order.
On December 23, the state government had canceled Cross Over Vigil across the state over the second wave of COVID-19.
According to the Chairman of the COVID-19 Inter-ministerial Committee, Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, it is misleading for anyone in a position of leadership in the civil society, including religious leaders who are expected to be role models to openly call on citizens to disobey government’s public health orders made to ensure the health of people, with the implication of putting the health of the people at risk.
Prof. Fatusi added that the prerogative to obey or disobey laws is that of individuals and groups while the responsibility to enforce laws is that of the government, and individuals/groups who chose to disobey the government’s duly approved regulations, laws, and orders must be ready to face the consequences, including the penalty specified in section 18 of the Ondo State COVID-19 Emergency Prevention Regulation.
“As the Technical Advisory body to the State Government on the control of COVID-19 in Ondo State, the Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID 19 hereby wishes to draw the attention of the public, particular Christians and Christian groups that COVID-19 is primarily a health issue, and NOT a religious issue: it is, therefore, not in the domain or area of competence of any religious group and for CAN leadership to indicate that technical decisions on health matters cannot be validly made by the state government without first consulting with the Association is implausible and absurd.
“The order of a curfew from 10.00 pm to 4.00 pm is a subsisting public health order that has been in operation for several months and aimed fundamentally at safeguarding the health of the citizens. The decision to maintain the curfew through and beyond 31st December 2020 in Ondo State was taken jointly with a deep sense of responsibility by a body of leading health experts at a meeting convened by the Inter-ministerial committee on Thursday, 24 December 2020, and involving the leadership of the major health professional groups.
“Government has the primary and primal responsibility to protect and safeguard the health of her people and the Ondo State Dangerous Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 Emergency Prevention Regulation) signed into law on 31st March 2020 empowers the Governor to take relevant actions to curb the spread of the COVID-19, including restriction of movements. The Governor does not need to consult with CAN or any religious or civil group before exercising the power that is duly vested in him by the law of the land.
“The evening and night of December 31st marks the end of the year for all people and not for any religious group and in the face of the threat of the second wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria, all individuals and groups – whatever their religious leaning may be – have a duty to celebrate the events marking the entry into a new year sensibly, responsibly and safely to ensure that they do not put the health of other citizens at risk.
“The Inter-Ministerial Committee hereby calls on all the people in Ondo State to celebrate the end of the year with a deep sense of responsibility and a strong commitment to safety and resist any call by anyone, no matter how highly placed, for them to disobey government health order and, therefore, put themselves at the risk of COVID-19 and its consequences as well as legal penalties, including fines and jail terms as specified in the Ondo State COVID-19 laws. Obedience, as the Holy Bible states, is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22)!”