THE partial lockdown put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari is to continue for two more weeks, Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who is also the Chairperson of the Presidential Tax Force (PTF) on Covid-19 Response has revealed.

The SGF said at Monday’s briefing of the PTF that President Buhari approved the immediate extension of the partial lockdown by another two weeks. President Buhari had on 27th April announced the gradual easing lockdown in FCT, Lagos and Ogun states to a nationwide night curfew beginning from 8pm to 6am from 4th May to 17th May (yesterday).

“Ladies and gentlemen, the reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.

“Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued. Based on the recommendations of the PTF, Mr President has approved the following:

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“The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to re-open under Phase One of the eased locked down shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 midnight today (18th May 2020 to 1st June 2020)” the SGF said.

Catholic Church thinks otherwise

Meanwhile, influential voice from the religious community in the country believes that it was time for the federal government to ease the lockdown to accommodate religious activities in the country.

National Record had earlier reported John Cardinal John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, calling for the re-opening of churches and mosques for controlled worshipping. Onaiyekan stated that all human lines of defense and attack have proved inadequate and that efforts at containing the pandemic have “all been groping in the dark, with largely trial and error measures from our many self-proclaimed “experts.”

He also asserted that many of the drastic measures put forward by experts and imposed on citizens by government have become demonstrably unsustainable and simply impracticable for the poor. “Our government, following what it calls “experts” and “international best practices”, has forced on us the suspension of this important right of gathering for worship. We have been told that this is a matter of life and death. We are told that our gathering would endanger the lives of not only our congregations but of the entire nation as well. There was no room for any argument. We succumbed to the imposition, not because we were convinced, but because we do not want anyone to heap on us responsibility for any disastrous outcome of this crisis through other causes.

“Now, after more than six weeks of lockdown, we have all learnt some lessons – and are in a better position to express our minds. That is why we are now raising questions about the validity of the suspension of our right to gather for worship. We are not speaking about sitting in our homes to follow religious programs on the electronic media. We don’t need anybody’s permission for that!

“Let it be clear that no-one, whether in government or among experts, is more concerned than us for the safety of our congregations and of our countrymen and women. We should therefore be trusted to observe due precautions in our places of worship,” the retired Catholic Archbishop had said among other things.

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