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Residents’ excited as Abuja churches reopen

Some Christians in Abuja yesterday expressed excitement over the decision of government to reopen churches, with some of them commending the move, saying the church is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. One of the worshippers simply called Henry said he was delighted to be in church after several weeks of absence due to the lockdown. Henry said, “It was fulfilling to experience such atmosphere again. It was like forever to be away. Although only a few people attended the service today, it was just divine and rewarding to be in the midst of the brethren once again.”

 Another Abuja resident, Mrs. Ife Ogunyemi, said she did not attend church because of her baby but was grateful that her husband did. The mother of one who noted that the church was not filled up, said, “Today is a thanksgiving service; being the first Sunday of the month. Before now, I will dress up and sit by the television, but today my husband attended and returned with great news.” Mr. Paul Andrew did not wake up early enough to be allowed in due to the limited number of worshippers allowed in his church at Garki, but was excited that people were now allowed to worship in congregations, and promised to be early next Sunday so as to worship with the congregation. Sounds of joy, music, clapping of hands, dancing and jubilation greeted the atmosphere in most of the churches as worshippers were relieved, saying they could worship again in their churches.

Worshippers in Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kuje praised God as they drummed and danced over the victory the world has gained over the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the brothers in the parish, Clement Ohakwe, said it was a great thing to see everyone again, adding that the reopening of worship places was long overdue as that was what they had been praying for in the last two months. Ohakwe said, “You can see how people are happy at seeing one another in God’s presence. We pray an end will come to this pandemic so that we can continue our normal way of worship and lifestyle. We were able to put some major measures in place such as social distancing, running water, sanitisers and others, and added that, “But of course, we cannot meet all the 29 guidelines as stipulated by the FCTA.” At one of the branches of Living Faith, worshippers were also excited to come together again as they prayed for the scourge to cease in the land. Sarah Eyo, one of the worshippers, said it was great to be back in God’s presence, adding that if churches had been allowed to meet and pray earlier, the scourge of COVID-19 would have ceased “because God is the last solution.” One Mr. David also said he believed in the power of coming together as one body to pray against any issue instead of sitting back at home.

He said, “We are also happy seeing churches back and bouncing and that is why we are all jubilating, as a group. If people are allowed to go to the market place, they should allow the churches to keep doing their services too. I know that measures and guidelines were provided, even though they are stringent, we will follow them because we are people who obey the law.” It would be recalled that places of worship were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but last Thursday, the FCTA announced their reopening, with guidelines on how worship could be conducted in a safe manner. In the meantime, the FCTA has lauded the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and church leaders across the territory for ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines for religious organisations.

The Chairman of the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Task Force on COVID-19 Restrictions, Ikharo Attah, gave the commendation when he monitored compliance of the guidelines by some churches. Attah lauded the First Baptist Church on Gimbiya Street, Area 11, where the North Central Chairman of CAN, Rev. Israel Akanji, worshipped yesterday. He said, “Entering the church through the gate we met some personnel who checked our temperature and gave us sanitiser to clean our hands. As we entered, we saw several hand washing points.

This is what the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, want to see.” The FCT team also visited ECWA and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Maitama, Abuja, where they observed that all the protocols were observed. The task force chairman particularly commended the Catholic Church in Maitama for opening a registry of members as part of efforts to ensure contact tracing should anyone come down with COVID-19.

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