Lagos govt condemns attack on task force members by worshippers

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L-R: Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, during a press briefing on the first case of Coronavirus in the State at Lagos House, Marina, on Friday, February 28, 2020.
L-R: Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, during a press briefing on the first case of Coronavirus in the State at Lagos House, Marina, on Friday, February 28, 2020.

The Lagos State Government has condemned the attack on members of the COVID-19 Task Force, by some worshippers at the Agege Central Mosque.

NAN reports that the COVID-19 Taskforce was mandated by the state government to monitor and enforce compliance against public gatherings exceeding 25 people.

Speaking on the incident in a statement, the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Dr Dolapo Fasawe, who condemned the attack, described it as barbaric and uncalled for.

”Our people are out to protect the residents of the state and yet were attacked for doing their jobs,” Fasawe, who is the leader of the Task Force said.

She said that the state government would not hesitate to sanction violators, as it would serve as deterrent to others.

According to her, it is obvious the gathering did not comply with the directive of Gov.Babajide Sanwo-Olu on public gathering and social distancing.

Fasawe said that the task force team comprising of LASEPA, Lagos Safety Commission and the Rapid Response Squad, saw the worshippers observing their evening prayer (Solatul Eshai) in a large congregation.

She said that this was contrary to the directive on total lockdown to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

”However, a drama ensued when some of the youths sighted the team and became aggressive, unruly and started to attack the team.

”Others in the mosque, numbering about 300 rushed out chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and joined them in the attack by throwing stones at the vehicles.

”All entreaties to talk to the Imam failed as the youth were persistent. But the Police escort rose to the occasion by curbing further attacks and ensuring the safety of the team,” the team leader said.

Fasawe said that the agency has been enjoying support and compliance from religious houses and was surprised that the congregation of a mosque that was visited last week could default and also attack government officials trying to enforce compliance.

She said that the team had visited several places of worship and had been able to enlighten them and advocate the social distancing approach in all gatherings.

”But in this instance, the mosque was filled to capacity. The essence of social distancing is to curtail the spread of Coronavirus. The people are endangering their lives and those of their neighbours,” Fasawe said.

She said that the state government remained committed to protecting all residents, hence would escalate the matter to appropriate quarters because such gathering should not be allowed to continue in the interest of all.

In his own remark, the Director-General, Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr Lanre Mojola said that the leadership of the two prominent religious organisations in the state had been adequately sensitised and carried along in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

”We won’t relent, we will continue to appeal to our people to heed advice. Prayers can be observed at home, businesses can be resuscitated but this deadly virus is dangerous if not well managed and timely controlled.

”If not for us, but for our families, friends and neighbours, let us do the needful and observe safety measures at all times,” Mojola, the Co-Leader of the task force said.

He, therefore, urged the general public to comply fully with the directive as the present administration would not hesitate to apply the law when necessary.