Christians and Muslims in Cross River State resumed public worship yesterday as adherents of Islam celebrated Eid el-Fitr.
Governor Ben Ayade had last week suspended the ban on congregational worship by religious organisations in the state. The ban was emplaced to curb the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Ayade said the lifting of the two months old ban public worship ban became necessary considering the spiritual economy, and in response to appeals by religious leaders in the state. But he insisted on the use of face mask, maintenance of social distance and other protocols.
However, the Federal Government last Thursday overruled Ayade and other governors who lifted the ban.At the Calabar headquarters of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), there was total compliance with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocol, as all the seats were re-arranged a safe distance apart, washing of hand with running water and sanitisers were provided.
In addition, the pastor, Adeolu Adeyemi, who lauded government for lifting the ban, charged Christians to pray for an end to the pandemic, as the first service lasted one and half hours instead of the usual two hours.
Similarly, some Muslim faithful worshipped at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office open field along the highway wearing face masks but ignored physical distancing.
Meanwhile, Governor Ayade, in his message to Muslims, canvassed peace, love and unity among Nigerians. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, the governor urged Nigerian to use the period for sober reflection on the state of things in the country.
While congratulating the Muslims for completing one of the five pillars of Islam, he urged them to do everything in moderation while they celebrate. According to him, the poor and less-privileged in society must be catered for, a principle which informed his decision to exempt low-income earners from taxation, including the petty traders in Bogobiri Muslim community.
He told the faithful that the month of Ramadan was intended to teach all Ummah to live good and compassionate lives, which must continue even after the Ramadan fast.
“Ramadan is a month of sacrifice, abstinence and, above all, love and care for humanity. I encourage you all to be your brother’s keeper. Look out for your neighbour in the firm belief that he too will look out for you. Most importantly, always use your face masks while going out to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“As you celebrate Eid-el-Fitr, which marks the end of the Ramadan fast, I urge everyone, regardless of your religious belief, to continue to keep the peace and to live in unity with one another in Nigeria, particularly Cross River,” he said.