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COVID-19: Muslims defy Benue government’s ban on religious gathering, hold Jumaat prayers in Makurdi

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*Muslims at prayer

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

Muslims in Makurdi the Benue state capital Friday held their Jumaat prayers in defiance of the state government’s order banning congregational and religious gatherings to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The state government had last Tuesday after an expanded State Executive Council, SEC, meeting embargoed all forms of congressional gatherings of more than 50 persons while social gatherings were totally banned till further notice.

Saturday Vanguard observed that the Muslim faithful who converged at the Makurdi Central Mosque, in their numbers at about 1:30 pm to participate in the prayers also failed to observe the directive on social distancing.

Also read: COVID-19: I received my test result, it’s negative ― Fayemi

They were all crowded inside and outside the large mosque for about an hour while the prayer session lasted without taking any precautionary measures.

Speaking on the decision of Muslims to hold the Jumaat service despite the embargo, the Sarki Hausawa, Alhaji Rayyanu Sanganmi said he was not aware that the government placed a ban on religious gatherings in the state.

Alhaji Sanganmi said, “the Information Commissioner and her counterpart from the Health Ministry visited us to sensitize us on the virus and told us why we should not shake hands and also observe social distance but we were not told to wash or sanitize our hands before entering the mosque.

“We were also not aware that we were not supposed to hold congregational prayers or gather together in large number.
Though English handbills were given to us with information on how to avoid diseases and the team promised to give us the Hausa version but that has not been given to us,” he added.

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