The government stressed that all churches in the state must respect the curfew in place and avoid physical crossover services and large gatherings on December 31, 2020.
Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday.
He said, “If you flout any of these rules, you can be fined. You will be taken to court and the magistrate will decide on the sanction. The fine can be between N20,000 and N500,000. It depends on the magistrate’s discretion.
“But it is not just about punishing people. People are being advised to take responsibility. The regulations were rolled out as an advisory and people have been obeying while people who have disobeyed have faced the consequences.”
The commissioner, however, expressed optimism that religious leaders in the state would comply with the directive of the government on the crossover services.
Omotoso said, “With what we have been seeing, I don’t think churches will flout the protocols. CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) is in agreement with the government. Covid cases are going up and everybody is worried. Some of the giant churches have also announced that they won’t be holding physical crossover services.
“The Lagos State Government has also told them that there is a curfew by midnight to 4am imposed by the Federal Government. Many of the churches have been adjusting their programmes. Churches are well-organised and we believe they will comply.”
Furthermore, the Director-General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola, said the commission would be working with men of the Lagos State Police Command to enforce all restrictions announced by the government, especially during the New Year period.
Mojola, who also spoke with The PUNCH on Wednesday, said the commission would not wait till the night of December 31, 2020 to swing to action.
“We are not waiting till tomorrow (Thursday). There is an ‘Operation No Tolerance’ and we have had a meeting with the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Task Force and Governor’s Monitoring Team. We will start patrolling tonight and the patrol will be two-ways – we will start warning people to observe the curfew and after the curfew, we will then start clampdown.
“For the churches, Mr Governor has made it very clear that there should be no crossover services. There is already an advisory from CAN that the churches should close very early by 11pm and they can join virtually into the New Year.
“Enforcement is going to be on another level this period. We are working very seriously with the police on this,” he said.
The director-general also urged well-meaning Lagosians to alert the commission of any contravention by churches in the state.
“Our men will be on the road patrolling the streets and these locations and in the event that people find these places, they can always call us and we will send operatives there to enforce the protocols,” he stated.
Lagos, which is one of the epicentres of coronavirus management in Nigeria, has recorded over 26,000 infections and more than 200 associated deaths since the outbreak of the virus in the country.