By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Monsur Olowopejo
Lagos State Government has recommended the use metal detectors and other security gadgets by religious organizations in their worship centers as part of measures to avert any form of terrorists attack in the state.
This came even as African Traditional Religion appealed to the state government to declare August 20th of every year as public holiday for traditional worshippers in the state.
Commissioner for Home affairs and Culture, Mr. Abdul-Hakeem Abdul-Lateef who made the appeal Tuesday, during a meeting with religious leaders in the state at the ministry, Alausa, Ikeja, urged them to also employ professional security officers as the measure is geared towards ensuring safety of life and security.
He said, “We would advise churches, mosques and other worship centers in Lagos State to buy metal detectors, and to employ more security personnel to ensure that extremists or terrorists do not have their way in Lagos. This is because they know how to target soft spots.”
The commissioner noted that no place is declared safe unless residents of the community are proactive and vigilant, noting “vigilance is the key word now.”
According to him, “You must employ personnel that would be trained on how to use the metal detector in order to ensure that no one come into your worship center with any explosives.
Considering the status of Lagos, many have seen the state as the best place to live. So, on your part as religious leaders, you must know the statistics of the worshippers in your centers because insurgency is a major challenge.
On our part, the commissioner said, “We will be creating a data base for all religious institutions in Lagos State. The enumerating exercise will afford us the opportunity to know the number of religious outfits in the state and where they are.
“We would be partnering with religious associations in the state to set standards religious house in Lagos. Partnering with the religious association will afford us the opportunity to regulate the activities of religious institutions so as to safeguard the welfare of people who come to worship and not endanger it. Because without your input, without your agreement, without partnership, there is no way things can work. We are ready to work together; there is no dictator in democratic government,” he added.
It will be recalled that the Department of State Service, DSS, in recently, arraigned suspected members of the dreaded Boko Haram Sect arrested in different parts of Lagos State and subsequently, urged government and residents to be more vigilant on suspicious movement.
The traditional worshippers at the forum argued that public holiday was often allotted to other religions but none had declared by the government for traditional worshippers.
Responding, Abdul-Lateef said that the government would look into the issues because “as a religion, you are entitled to the rights accorded to other religions.”
Successful Hajj operation
Meantime, the state government has reiterated her commitment towards ensuring a successful Hajj operation during the annual Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Abdul Lateef, stated this during a presentation of Hajj proposal to the Ministry by the Managing Director of Hajj operation, Dr. Abdul Lateef.
The Commissioner explained that the ministry is always open to explore new ways of providing efficient and comfortable travel plans for intending pilgrims, promising that necessary partnership and collaboration with organisations that could add value to the mandate of the ministry would always be encouraged.