Thursday, 2 April 2020
COVID-19: Worshippers attack police, officials at Lagos mosque

From Nigerian newspapers The Nation , Vanguard and The Tribune

SOME worshippers at Agege Central Mosque, Lagos have attacked officials of the state Environmental Protection Agency, (LASEPA) and Lagos State Safety Commission. Journalists and police officers were also attacked, The Nation learnt.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night when the officials were  monitoring the compliance with the lockdown order. The team had earlier visited and sealed off a warehouse of Jumia, an online marketing store, for contravening the order by the Federal government.

On their way back to Alausa, the team stopped to check if the worshippers were adhering to the directive of the Lagos state government on crowd reduction.

The congregation was observing Solatul Ishai (the last part of the five daily prayers) when the LASEPA team leader and two journalists went into the mosque pavilion.

The big mosque, popularly known as Moshalashi Alhaja, was filled to the capacity.

After completion of the prayer, the LASEPA team leader requested to have an audience with the Chief Imam of the Mosque. A leader in the mosque told him the Chief Imam was not around. While requesting for the next person in rank, some members of the congregation started shouting at him. Some became very aggressive and attacked the state officials

...a crowd numbering about 300, rushed out of the mosque on sighting the officials and started hauling stones at their vehicles to scare them away. All entries to talk to the imam, reportedly failed after several attempts. However, the police escort, attached to the team were able to curtail the atmosphere and ensure safety of the team.

A statement issued by the spokesperson of the enforcement team, Mrs. Bola Ajao, claimed that the mosque was packed to the hilt, contrary to the social distancing regulation of the state government, which was also supported by the central government. According to her, backed with photographic evidence, about 300 worshippers crammed into the mosque when the officially-sanctioned for any gathering for now, is maximum, 25 people.

Ajao who is the head of the media unit of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, says the worshippers trooped out against the enforcement team, shouting Allah Akbar, while going for anything official, at sight.

Reacting to the development, General Manager, LASEPA, Dolapo Fasawe, who condemned the attack, described it as “barbaric and uncalled for,” saying “our people are out to protect the lives of the residents of the state and yet were attacked for doing their jobs.  . . it was obvious the gathering did not comply with the executive order. The mosque was filled to capacity. The essence of social distancing is to curtain the spread of Coronavirus. The people are endangering their lives and those of their neighbours. Government has a duty to protect the lives of the people,” she said.

Posted on 04/02/2020 6:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
3 Apr 2020
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