Lagos State Government has sealed off a mosque in Agege for violating the government’s order on religious gathering.
It will be recalled that the order was given to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had banned gathering of more than 20 persons in one of the preventive measures to curtail the spread of the deadly disease.
However, worshippers at Agege Central Mosque (Hausa Community), popularly called Moshalashi Alhaja, located at Balogun Street, on Tuesday flouted the order during the night prayer (Ishai) and worshipped in hundreds.
Attempts by officials of the Lagos State COVID-19 Task Force, who arrived on the scene to enforce compliance, were rebuffed.
A drama ensued when some of the Muslim youths saw the team and attacked them. About 300 others in the mosque rushed out, chanting Allahu Akbar and joined them in the attack by pelting the vehicles with stones.
Agege Local Government Chairman Alhaji Ganiyu Egunjobi, who was informed of the incident by the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Islamic Matters, Alhaji Abdullahi Jebe, led the council officials to seal off the mosque after fumigating the place.
He said the shutdown became necessary to prevent a recurrence, adding that it would act as a deterrent to others.
“We cannot continue to condone an act capable of spreading this dreadful disease. Even Saudi Arabia has placed restrictions on the number of people who must worship at the two holy mosques, Haram and Nabawi and banned congregational prayers in other mosques across the country. Honestly speaking, we cannot be more Catholic than the Pope.
“We have had engagement with the leadership of the mosque, including the Sarkin Hausawa, Alhaji Musa Muhammed and our resolution is that the mosque should be shut down till further notice,” Egunjobi said.
Alhaji Jebe said he and the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, informed Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu about the incident.
He said that the worshippers did not only flout government’s directives, they also attacked the task force officials, reporters and police officers.
“This is unacceptable. We will not condone such criminal action. We are taking this opportunity to warn other religious houses engaging in similar acts to desist. We will not hesitate to close any mosque flouting government’s order,” Jebe said.
Lagos State Safety Commission Director-General Lanre Mojola said the task force retreated during the attack so as not to escalate the incident.
He described as unfortunate the gathering of over 300 worshippers as against government’s recommended 20 for a gathering.
“A lot of people do not believe that Coronavirus is real. They do not understand the social distancing message of the government. Ours is to engage the populace, educate them before enforcement when necessary,” Mojola said.