The Anglican Bishop of Aguata Diocese in Anambra State, Right Reverend Samuel Ezeofor, has faulted the decision to shut down churches in the name of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the ideal thing would have been to ask churches to maintain social distance.
Delivering his 2020 Easter message at Ekwulobia in Aguata local government area, Bishop Ezeofor maintained that what would have been important was to ensure that in addition to maintaining social distance, worshipers should be made to use sanitizers and avoid shaking of hands during services.
The Bishop, who is the most senior Anglican Bishop in the Niger Province and chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion, EFAC, stressed the need for the maintenance of the sanctity of the church as the only place where powers are received through prayers.
“The Church is the only place where powers are received through prayers, hence asking for its shut down because of COVID-19, is not acceptable,” he said.
He called for prudent management of all the funds donated by individuals and groups in the ongoing fight against coronavirus to ensure accountability, urging Nigerians to turn to God for solution to the myriad of problems facing the country.
The prelate used the occasion of Easter to advise those occupying leadership positions to emulate the humility of Jesus Christ in serving mankind.
According to him, without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would be no hope for Christians.
He also called on the faithful to use the period of Easter in building bridges of trust and good neighbourliness.
In view of the Easter celebrations, weekend, Abia State government has relaxed the extended seven-day lockdown in the state.
Secretary of the State Government, Barr. Chris Ezem, in a statement, said there will be free movement of people within the state between the hours of 6am on Friday, April 10(Good Friday) and 2pm on Sunday, April 12 (Easter Sunday), 2020.
“Religious worshippers shall be free to worship at their various churches and mosques but must compulsorily observe the following guidelines:
“Not more than 50 persons per stream of worship and a social distance of 1.5m must be maintained. All worshippers must wear face mask.
“Churches and Mosques must provide a minimum of 4 points for handwashing with running water and soap. Hand sanitizers must also be provided at different points for the use of intending worshippers.”
He disclosed that the State and Local Government Enforcement Teams and Security Operatives will continue to move around to ensure strict compliance.
“Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu hereby enjoins all religious worshippers to use this period to pray for God’s intervention and mercy upon our dear State Abia, our nation Nigeria and the entire world over this dreaded pandemic.”
The statement added that the relaxation order also extends to public gatherings such as burial ceremonies, weddings, meetings, clubbing, stressing that initial order on these activities remain valid and subsisting.
“All our State borders remain closed and Security Operatives must continue to ensure strict compliance.
“All public places allowed to operate supermarkets and malls must not entertain more than 10 persons at a time subject to differences in size and must maintain minimum standards of hygiene by providing handwashing materials, sanitizers and digital thermometers.
“Government shall immediately shut down any business concern that flouts these directives.
“Finally, the 7 Day extension shall continue from 3pm on Sunday, April 12 to Friday, April 17, 2020.”
Similarly, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have inspected COVID-19 protective care centres in Anambra State to ascertain their preparedness to fight coronavirus cases.
While in the state, the team visited Amaku General Hospital, Aguleri Surge Centre, Onitsha General Hospital, Ekwulobia General Hospital and Umuawulu Isolation Centre, which were set up by the state government for the coronavirus.
South East zonal coordinator of NEMA, Mr. Fred Anusim said in addition to ascertaining Anambra’s readiness in the isolation centres, they needed to have in their records, the capacity of the isolation centres and actual number of persons they could accommodate.
Anusim, who spoke through the Assistant Coordinator of NEMA, Mrs. Eyiuche Aniagor said the agency also wanted to know plans of SEMA, in terms of security logistics and mass-care on COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to restricted movement in the state.
She explained that the two agencies had brainstormed on easy ways of identification, enumeration and collation of data of the most vulnerable in all the communities in the state for possible food, water and other interventions by the Federal Government.
Meantime, Anambra born business mogul, Chief Emeka Offor has donated medical equipment to the Army and Police worth N2.1 million to help them battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation which was made under Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, SEOF, is to be distributed to 14 medical institutions spread across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, including the Federal Territory, Abuja.
Speaking during the hand over ceremony, the Coordinator of SEOF, Sir Tony Obi, said 11 medical institutions had earlier received theirs and the medical equipment and suppliers being distributed by the foundation contains Personal Protective Equipments, PPE needed in the fight against COVID-19 and the beneficiaries desire them now nore than ever before.
According to Sir Obi, “Our Chairman, Sir Emeka Offor, acted while importing the equipment and supplies as if he had the premonition of the danger of coronavirus hitting Nigeria.
“The distribution of the medical equipment and supplies was going on before the lockdown in the country, but because of the national emergency occasioned by the scourge of COVID-19, the Foundation in obedience to best practices and government guidelines closed its warehouse as a precautionary and preventive measure to avoid creating a condition that will favour spread.