COVID-19: Abia Govt seals church, electrical plaza in Aba for violating protocol
Abia State Government has sealed Chapel of Answers International Church, situated at 86 Jubilee road, by Kent Street Aba, for allegedly violating protocols on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The enforcement team of the state’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19, led by Chris Ezem, secretary to the State Government during an inspection on Wednesday, met the church members, holding a mid-week meeting without maintaining social distance and not wearing facemasks.
The team also sealed up an electrical plaza, located on Faulks Road, near the Ariaria International Market, for not observing protocols.
Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of the state, is currently in isolation, having contracted the virus. Recently, the state government raised a red flag on Aba, the commercial city, warning that the virus was spreading in the town as a result of people’s refusal to comply with the covid-19 protocols.
Ezem, who expressed displeasure over what he saw in Ariaria market, threatened to shut down the market, if the traders and their leaders fail to comply with COVID-19 protocols, as prescribed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the state government.
According to him, the scenario in Ariaria, shows the ineffectiveness of the leadership of the market and members of the COVID-19 task force in ensuring that the guidelines on the reopening of the market was strictly adhered to by the traders.
“We are not doing anything that is out of place. Government directive and protocols of religious worship is explicit. Government directive is that religious worshippers can worship on Sundays; 50 persons per stream, two persons per pew and observe social distance and other protocols.
“We made it clear that there should be no mid-week activities. Lagos State just withdrew from the opening of churches and Mosques, because of the events that are unfolding.
“We can’t start risking the lives of Abians. The government is making every effort to ensure that the people are safe. Our numbers (of COVID-19 infected persons) are increasing by the day and it should worry you. We have to be alive to continue to worship. Why will this church be going against the directives against the mid-week service?
“The lives of Abians are important to the state government and I am ordering that the pastor be prosecuted for violating government directives.
“We are urging people to wear their face masks, maintain social distance and sanitize their hands. We don’t want the continued spread of this disease in Abia. Our visit today is to go round to make sure that the orders of the state government are strictly adhered to.
“On Ariaria, if we find out any breach of government directives on the condition for trading in this place, we may be forced to withdraw what we have and order a complete lockdown of the market,” Ezem said.
However, few hours after the much-talked-about sealing of the church, the video of which went viral on social media, our reporter visited the church and reports that all the seals used by the team had been removed, indicating that it has been unsealed.
Sources within the area however told our reporter that the church has settled whatever issue it had with the COVID-19 enforcement team that sealed its premises, which prompted its immediate unsealing after few hours.