Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has reversed his earlier decision to reopen religious centers in the state, citing the importance of human life over social gatherings as one of his reasons.
Governor Ortom announced this today while briefing journalists at the Benue People’s House, Markurdi.
“I appreciate Benue people. I thank them, I also appreciate the concern of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Benue State chapter and the Muslim community; but you cannot attend church service or mosque when you are dead so we will secure lives first”, he said.
“Therefore, on behalf of the State Executive Council, I hereby reverse the lifting of a ban on churches and mosques services/prayers. We have reversed to the status quo where churches, mosques and other public places like markets were closed.
“We are a component part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we appreciate the fact that the Federal Government is the custodian of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and they are informed about what is going on, and so we must subject ourselves to their decision in accordance with laws of the land.
Governor Ortom said his administration is submitting to the advice of the Federal Government, saying:
“We do not want to endanger the lives of our people. In the event of any challenge concerning this pandemic, the next port of call will be the Federal Government, so we cannot kick against their advice. We feel that the advice is genuine. If we took a decision and we have this kind of advice that is genuine and meant to support the health of our people, we have no reason whatsoever to go ahead with the decision we earlier took.
The renewed ban on social and religious gatherings have been extended to include burials, weddings and other public gatherings with over 30 people. Ortom warned doubters about the reality and deadly nature of the Covid19 pandemic.
“There will be no church services or mosque prayers where people will gather. Same restrictions cover burials, weddings and other public gatherings which number must not exceed 30 persons as we said earlier.
And we will require everyone to appreciate the fact that Coronavirus is real and deadly and there is no cure yet, but there are preventive measures put in place by health experts”, Ortom said.
“We advise our people to strictly observe COVID-19 protocol such as washing of hands with soap, wearing of face masks, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and social distancing. We encourage our people to visit Federal Medical Centre and Benue State University Teaching Hospital anytime they notice symptoms.
“We want to call on Benue people to understand with us. This is a serious matter and we must not take things for granted. We will continue to work with the Federal Government to see when it will be convenient to relax the lockdown,” he stated.
Governor Ortom further announced that the third COVID-19 case in the state, Mrs Rebecca Apedzan had tested negative to the virus and would be discharged today.