The Christian faithful were on Sunday chased out of churches in Ogun State by operatives of the task force deployed by the state government to enforce compliance with the ban on gatherings with over 50 people.
The task force, led by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Toyin Afolaogun, stormed churches in Abeokuta metropolis and dispersed worshippers for flouting the directive of the state government.
Churches affected included Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Quarry Road and St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Ibara, both in Abeokuta, the state capital.
The task force had stormed the Winners Chapel at about 6:30 am and dispersed hundreds of worshippers who had assembled preparatory to early morning service.
They were told to hold the service only if they were ready to comply with the directive, limiting number of worshippers to 50.
It was a similar scenario when the task force visited St Anne’s Catholic Church in Ibara, Abeokuta, while early morning mass was in progress.
Newsmen observed that the Catholic adherents complied with the required social-distancing recommendation at church, but the leader of the task force demanded to count the number of worshippers in the church.
Upon his discovery that the congregation had over 50 worshippers, Afolaogun dispersed them and ordered re-assembling in compliance with the directive of the government.
Meanwhile, some churches visited by our correspondent were under lock and key, with a few of them hanging banners notifying their members to stay away.
At the Celestial Church of Christ, Ibara, a notice was conspicuously displayed at the church’s gate, which notified that services have been suspended indefinitely.
The notice read: “In compliance with the state government’s directives on Coronavirus, church members and visitors are hereby advised to stay away from the church premises until further notice. Please, pray at home.”
Addressing reporters after the enforcement exercise in Abeokuta, Afolaogun said there was 80 per cent compliance in the state.
“So far, so good; we have recorded about 80 per cent compliance. The church that did not comply, we politely told them to comply accordingly. We politely told them to leave and re-assemble themselves.
“Anybody who fails to comply with directives of the state government, for sure, will face the wrath of the law. We want to appeal to the general public to comply with the directives of the state government. Every directive should be complied with.”
When asked on the number of arrests made, he said: “so far, there is no arrest.”