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COVID 19: Clergymen arraigned for holding service

Since the Government declared Kaduna State a Public Health area and Coronavirus a dangerous infectious disease 12 days ago, there have been various forms of violations of the Quarantine Law.

Restriction of movement has been flouted by many residents and commercial hubs operated illegally, forcing the State Government to threaten to close the two-day window provided for residents to re-stock food supplies, if the people continue disobeying the Quarantine Law.

However, the religious community has substantially complied with the lockdown as Muslim daily congregational prayers, including Jumma’at prayers, have been suspended. Likewise, church services have not been held.

The Government commends religious and traditional rulers for sensitizing their followers about the dangers of COVID-19, by asking them to obey the lockdown order as a religious obligation.

In spite of this sermon, some Muslim clerics held congregational prayers on March 27th, 2020, at Unguwar Kanawa and Malali areas of Kaduna North Local Government. They were promptly arrested and subsequently arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court on March 30th, 2020, to demonstrate Government’s determination to prosecute violators of the Quarantine Law.

Apparently, some clergymen mis-read Government’s strong signal, as they flouted the law and disobeyed the warning of various leaders of faith, by holding church service.

Last Sunday, security agents arrested Ifeanyi Ojonu and Giniki Okafor at Sabon Tasha area of Chikun Local Government for holding church service. The suspects were arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court yesterday, 6th April, 2020, on charges of Criminal Conspiracy and Disobedience to an Order duly promulgated by a Public Servant, under section 59 and 115 of the Penal Code.

The Government wishes to reiterate that nobody is above the law and everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. For this reason, the Quarantine Law will be applied without fear or favour, until the lockdown is duly lifted.

Residents should report any infringement of fundamental human rights by either security agents or government officials, by calling these dedicated telephone numbers (09034000060, 08170189999) to complain.

Samuel Aruwan
Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs
7th April 2020

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