The Lagos State Government has appealed for the support and understanding of religious leaders in the State over plans to re-open worship centres.
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, made the plea on Tuesday at a Ministerial Press briefing commemorating the first year in office of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu at JJT Park, Alausa, Ikeja.
While acknowledging the discomfort which the COVID-19 pandemic brought on both the Muslims and Christians in Lagos, specifically during the Lenten season and the Ramadan period, the Commissioner commended the religious leaders under the umbrella of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, for their altruism and for prioritising the wellbeing of their members.
He said: “For a very long time in human history, Christians celebrated the Lenten period and Easter celebrations at home, while Muslims were also restricted to observe Sallat at home throughout the Ramadan period, including the Eid-El Fitri celebrations”.
Elegushi attributed the mutual understanding that exists between the State government and the religious groups to a long-term religious harmony and peaceful coexistence, saying that creating rapport is one of the critical functions of the Ministry.
“We pride ourselves in saying that what divides and creates security breach in other parts of the country is what unites us in Lagos State, bearing in mind that Lagos State has become a home to people from across Nigeria and beyond”, the Commissioner restated.
He recalled that the State government and various leaders of the two religious bodies held several meetings, since the index case was recorded, to agree on strategies to adopt in order to guarantee the safety of their members.
According to him, the timely intervention of the churches and mosques during the period to shut down all religious gatherings, activities and programmes helped in the containment of the virus from escalating beyond control.