Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has directed the state Covid-19 Team headed by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Kadafur to meet with Shehu of Borno and Islamic clerics to discuss on possibility of holding Eid prayers.
A statement Wednesday by the governor’s spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, said the governor wanted them to critically discuss the possibility of allowing the Eid-prayers across the state but under strict preventive measures.
“Coronavirus is no doubt a dangerous disease and efforts to prevent it must be sustained. In so doing, however, we have to harmonize our obligation in fighting the virus with the needs of those who represent, especially on highly sensitive issues of religion, in which citizens act with motivations that are greater than fears.
“Borno has, in the last couple of years, been operating under unusual circumstances. We have had instances in which citizens defy the fear of Boko Haram for long treks to Eid-grounds even when vehicular movement is restricted by government.
“Even when insurgents send suicide attackers to worship places, citizens insist on going to same mosques. It is clear that spiritual motivation of citizens are strong and can’t be ignored by government.
“It is the kind of motivation that drives citizens all over the country to defy COVID-19 fears and converge in markets in search of food and other basics. We will pay attention to the needs of citizens, but we will do so with the highest sense of responsibility.
“I am directing members of our dedicated Covid-19 response team, chaired by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, to consult with His Eminence, the Shehu of Borno, to hold a meeting that should be attended by the Imam Idaini of Borno and Imams of eid-grounds in the metropolis, relevant security agencies and volunteers, to critically discuss the possibility or otherwise of allowing eids to hold,” Zulum said as quoted in the statement.
Zulum who advised on strict use of face masks with hand sanitizers administered at restricted entry points should they approved the prayers, urged them to also consider one off situation like creating additional prayer grounds or use of some Friday mosques, that would make it easier to have less crowds at every Eid-ground so as to make social distancing more feasible.
The Governor however noted that notwithstanding his recommendation, he will be more than willing to accept whatever outcome, including a contrary one, if that is reached between the response team and the clerics.