The inspector-general of police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has directed the commissioners of police in states where the social restriction orders have been emplaced to continue with the enforcement of the orders.
Force spokesman, Frank Mba, said that while felicitating with the Nigerian Christians as they commemorate the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the IGP wants religious leaders in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as other states affected by the restriction orders, to continue to cooperate with relevant government agencies and use their leadership positions to encourage worshippers to observe prayers and worship programmes in the confines of their homes.
He spoke as Kogi, Imo, Rivers and Ebonyi States, lifted the ban on religious gathering to enable Christians observe Good Friday today and Easter on Sunday.
Already, the federal government has declared today and Monday next week as public holidays to mark the Easter celebrations.
The IGP noted that the call was in order to curtail the community spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has immensely challenged humanity across all spheres of life.
Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, said that the lifting of the ban of religious gatherings across the state was with immediate effect to allow religious bodies have their normal worship and services.
The directive was contained in a statement signed by Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the commissioner for Information and Communication.
Governor Bello, however, urged all religious leaders to put in place preventive and precautionary measures to contain the outbreak and spread of coronavirus in the state.
In the same vein, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State in a statewide broadcast yesterday, said that the directive also permits the Muslim community to observe their Juma’at prayers within the period.
He said: “In the spirit of Easter, therefore, and after a careful review of the state of COVID-19 situation in our state, we have decided to temporarily relax the restriction on large religious gathering, as follows:
“Friday, 10th April, 2020 –all Muslim faithful, should observe Juma’at prayers in their mosques or prayer grounds throughout the state and pray for the peace, forgiveness and the blessings of Allah upon the State.
“Sunday, 12th April, 2020, all Christians should have Easter church services with their full congregation and pray to God to forgive us of our sins, continue to intervene in our affairs and protect the state and our people from the coronavirus,” he said.
The Ebonyi State governor, Chief David Umahi, has also allowed Christians in the state to conduct church services between 8am to 12 noon on Easter Sunday.
The commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barr Uchenna Orji and senior special assistant to the governor on Religious and Welfare Matters, Rev Fr Abraham Nwali made the disclosure at a joint press briefing on the outcome of the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting in Abakaliki.
Nwali said that the government lifted the ban following an appeal by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to allow Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday which he said is the highest celebration among Christians worldwide.
He said that any church opens a minute past 12 noon would be sealed by the state government, the cleric in charge of the church arrested and prosecuted.