Ado-Ekiti and Makurdi — The Benue State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has recommended the suspension of all church and wedding activities in the state as a proactive measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State chapter of the association has directed his members across its 17 jurisdictional centres of in state to comply with the restriction of number of congregation to 20.
In a message issued by the Benue State Chairman of CAN, Rev. Akpen Leva, yesterday in Makurdi, the association appealed to churches to comply with the recommendation to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
Leva said the recommended suspension would take effect from April 1 and enjoined all churches to cooperate.
In a message titled: 'The Reality of COVID-19: A call for strict compliance', the association appealed to proprietors of mission-based schools to also adhere to the directive for the closure of schools by the state government.
It said: "It has become very pertinent for me to address you today concerning the reality of COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the world to unavoidable panic.
"The rate, at which it is spreading, therefore, calls for real collaboration and unity of purpose to ensure we curtail further spread among our people.
"In this regard, we urge all church leaders, clergymen and the Christian community in Benue State to duly observe the following adjustments we have made regarding our Christian activities.
"Considering the importance of the week-long fasting and prayer session organised by CAN in conjunction with the state government, which is to round off on March 29, 2020, we wish to say that with effect from April 1, 2020, we will encourage churches to enforce smaller units of congregational worships of not more than 50 people.
"We also recommend the suspension of Sunday services and Mass for the next two weeks to monitor the situation.
Christians are encouraged to continue with home devotions, crusades, conventions, revivals, vigils as well as refresher courses.
Leva said other activities that involved coming together of large congregation should be discouraged for the benefit of the residents of the state.
He said: "Burials should be restricted to only close family members of the deceased. Weddings and other social celebrations are to be suspended until the situation improves.
"We urge you to observe strictly the health conditions as prescribed by Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). In this regard, you are advised to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
"Personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizers, face masks, hand washing fonts with liquid soap dispensers to be provided. Thus, hand sanitizers should be handy at every church entrance.
"We appeal to all church leaders to ensure that this information gets to the grassroots and also ensure strict compliance. Ensure the vulnerable are not abandoned at this time and beyond."
While in Ekiti State, CAN also directed its members across its 17 jurisdictional centres of the state to comply with the restriction of number of congregation to 20.
The religious organisation declared that the executive order issued by the state Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was targeted at checkmating the spread of coronavirus and completely safeguards the state against attack by this ravaging plague.
As part of the measures to contain the spread of the disease, Fayemi had last week Friday directed all churches and mosques to restrict their congregations to 20, which was accorded partial compliance across the state at worship centres.
Speaking with journalists via telephone yesterday in Ado Ekiti , the state CAN Chairman, Reverend Peter Olowolafe, also urged Nigerians to be hopeful in spite of the seeming gloomy position of the economy caused by coronavirus pandemic.
He revealed that he had ordered the CAN leaderships across the 17 jurisdictions in the state to enforce the governor's directive.