Published 13th April, 2020
It was a mild drama at a church in Akure, the Ondo state capital on Easter Sunday as a pastor jumped a fence to escape arrest for flouting government’s ban on religious gathering as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Meanwhile, no fewer than five churches in the state were forcefully shut and worshippers dispersed by the state government Special task force set up to enforce compliance.
The shut churches include Christ Apostolic church, Oke-Lisa, TAJEM Irese, Assemblies of God church, Olufoam and Gospel church ministry, Irese road. Members of the churches that were forcefully shut took to their heels leaving their belongings on arrival of the Task force officials in their churches. Many claimed they were not aware of the stay at home order of the government but their pastors kept mute when interrogated by the task force officials.
Church service were disrupted by the task force team as worshippers fled into the bush for fear of being arrested. One of the pastor reportedly locked the members inside the church from outside and conducted Easter service. It took the task force members tough time to force the door of the church open only to meet the worshippers inside.
The pastor of the church after sensing that he was in trouble tried to jump the church fence to evade arrest but members of the task force who were stationed around the church arrested him before he fled. The Senior Special assistant to the Governor on Special duties and strategies, Dr Doyin Adebowale who led task force to enforce the closure order frowned at the noncompliance attitude by the clergymen.
Recall that the state government and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria had directed that Christians should observe the celebration at the confines of their homes. Odebowale has however vowed that the defaulters will be prosecuted. According to him
“The action of the defaulting churches is against the advice of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria that Christians should celebrate the Easter Sunday at home as a way of preventing community spread of the Covid 19 with two cases already recorded in the state”. He said that ” We will prosecute all the pastors that contravened the stay at home order of government because of COVID-19 pandemic.