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Lagos Churches, Mosques Reopen Friday, Bars, Clubs Stay Closed —— Sanwo-Olu

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The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says worship centres in the state will be allowed to reopen from Friday, August 7.

He said Muslim worshippers are allowed to begin their services from Friday while Christian worshippers could begin their Sunday services on August 9, noting that the permission applies to Churches that have their main worship days on Saturdays.

He, however, warned that the religious centres would only be allowed to operate at 50 per cent of their capacity, noting that the safety protocols released by the government must be strictly adhered to.

Worship centres in the state have been shut since March as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In June after the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 approved the reopening of worship centres, the state government on June 4 asked mosques to reopen from June 19, and churches from June 21.

But, at a press briefing on June 16, the governor cancelled the plan due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

Speaking at a press briefing on Saturday, Sanwo-Olu said, “Places of worship in Lagos State will be allowed to open from Friday, August 7 for our Muslim worshippers, and Sunday the 9th of August for Christian worshippers, but only at 50 per cent of their capacity. Churches whose main worship days fall on Saturdays are permitted to hold their services on Saturdays.”

He stressed that worship centres would not be permitted to have other services or fellowships outside of their main weekly services that hold once a week, but that they could schedule multiple services on their designated worship days. He said vigil remained prohibited till further notice.

Among the conditions to be met by the religious centres planning to reopen, he said persons above 65 were strongly discouraged from attending services and that the ‘No Facemask, No Entry’ policy must be maintained throughout the duration of services.

He added, “Regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities must be carried out to maintain clean and hygienic environments before and after every service. Appropriate screening equipment for COVID-19 symptoms such as a contactless temperature check must be available for entrants into the facility.

“It is mandatory to provide hand-washing facilities and sanitisers at the entry and exit points; national emergency response phone lines must be displayed prominently on the premises and handshakes, hugs and high fives are not permitted at gatherings.”

He stated that the use of stationary collection boxes and electronic methods for collection of the offering must be encouraged and that the flow of human traffic in and out of the premises must be conducted in an organised manner.”

Sanwo-Olu said the number of cases had been decreasing over the past two weeks, adding that from August 14, restaurants would be permitted to open for in-dining services while social clubs and recreational centres would also be allowed to open, on the proviso that they maintain a 50 per cent occupancy capacity and obtain Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate from the government.

He added that the permissible capacity for public gatherings had been increased from 20 to 50 persons, warning that the closure of all spas, bars, lounges, night clubs, cinemas, games arcades remain till another review before the end of the month.

On the reopening of schools, the governor said secondary schools would reopen for only exit classes from August 3 as planned, adding that all standard precautions must be put in place by school authorities. “The Lagos State Government will make face masks available to all schools to which this reopening exemption applies, for the duration of the reopening,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Mrs Aderonke Odeneye, said the government had intensified the periodic fumigation/decontamination of all public secondary schools in the state.

A statement by the Director, Public Affairs, Kunle Adeshina, quoted Odeneye as saying that majority of the public secondary schools in the six educational districts, including all model colleges, had been reached.

It added, “The fumigation exercise which is ongoing, preparatory to resumption for terminal classes will continue after the West Africa Examination Council exams.”

While thanking frontline health workers; non-medical personnel like drivers, cleaners and attendants; monitoring and compliance teams and the private sector for their continuing sacrifice, support and courage, he said compliance with safety protocols remained important.

As of Friday, the governor said Lagos State had 15,150 confirmed cases, out of which 10,835 persons have been discharged and 194 persons have died as a result of the virus.

He added, “This leaves us with 1,813 active cases in community and 96 under management across various isolation centres in the state.”

He also said the Eti-Osa isolation centre had been shut down while the one in Agidingbi would soon be closed too.

“We now have two pathways through which confirmed cases are managed; either through our home-based strategy or in designated COVID care centres,” he added.

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Many Missing As Truck Plunges Into Lagos River

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Many people have been declared missing after a truck fell off the Berger bridge into the Epe river in Lagos State on Friday night.

As at the time of filing this report, the number of persons in the truck was unknown.

However, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) confirmed the incident on Saturday.

Head, Public Affairs of LASEMA, Nosa Okunbor, said search and rescue operations are ongoing.

More to come.

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BIG STORY

‘Jail Me But Set Him Free’ — Foreign Activist Writes Buhari Over 13-Year-Old Sentenced For Blasphemy In Kano

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Piotr Cywinski

Piotr Cywinski, director of Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, says he is ready to be imprisoned in Nigeria so that Umar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy sentenced for blasphemy, can regain freedom.

A Sharia court in Kano had convicted Farouq for “using disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.

In a letter dated September 25 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, Cywinski sought pardon for Farouq.

He said if Buhari is unable to facilitate the teenager’s release, he and 119 volunteers would serve a month in a Nigerian prison on Farouq’s behalf.

“I permit myself to write to you personally about a young boy named Omar Farouq, who was convicted recently in a Sharia court in Kano State in north-west Nigeria after being accused of blasphemy used during an argument with a friend,” he said.

“I wish to request the pardon of this 13-year-old boy. Regardless of what he said, he cannot be treated as fully aware and responsible, given his age.

“If it turns out that the words of this child absolutely require 120 months of imprisonment, and even you are not able to change that, I suggest that in place of the child, 120 adult volunteers from all over the world, gathered by us myself personally among them should each serve a month in a Nigerian prison.

“In total, the price for the child’s transgression will be the same, and we will all avoid the worst.

“If you agree to grant clemency, or to the above proposal in lieu of punishment, I will make an attempt to provide financial help for the boy’s proper education. This way, instead of a destroyed young man, Nigeria will gain an aware and educated young citizen.

“You will undoubtedly agree with the statement that human rights begin with the rights of the child. I kindly ask you to consider my proposal favorably.”

Cywinski’s request came days after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appealed to the Kano state government to reverse the jail sentence.

Auschwitz Memorial preserves the remains of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, where children were imprisoned and murdered.

Adolf Hitler, the late leader of Nazi Germany, reportedly oversaw the killing of 6 million Jews.

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Don’t Join Nationwide Strike, FG Warns Civil Servants

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Folasade Yemi-Esan, head of the civil service of the federation, has warned workers under the federal government not to join the planned strike by labour unions across the country, scheduled to begin on Monday.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and its affiliate unions had enjoined workers to embark on an indefinite strike, pending when the federal government reverses the price of petrol and electricity tariff.

In a statement on Friday, Yemi-Esan said the federal government is in talks with the labour unions towards ensuring that all agitations by the workers are resolved.

She, however, added that the workers cannot embark on the industrial action because there is a court injunction restraining them from doing so.

“Sequel to the call by the Labour Unions for workers to embark on industrial action from Monday, 28th September 2020, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) wishes to inform all public servants that the Federal Government team is currently engaging with the Labour Unions with a view to resolving all contentious issues and avert the planned industrial action,” she said.

“Furthermore, it is important to note that there is a court injunction granted by the National Industrial Court (Suit No. NICN/ABJ/253/2020) on 24th September 2020, restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria from embarking on any form of industrial action pending the hearing and determination of a Motion on Notice.

“Accordingly, all officers on Grade Level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties.”

In two separate rulings, the National Industrial Court had restrained the labour unions from embarking on the strike.

Meanwhile, other unions such as the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), the Joint Action Front (JAF), Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), aviation unions, among others, have declared their interest to join in the strike.

 

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