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Lagos rules out plans to reopening of worship Centres

Controversy trails as churches and mosques in Lagos State may not be reopened soon for worshippers due to disagreement on protocols and guidelines between the state government and religious leaders.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had, on Monday, lifted the ban on mosques and churches in the country based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments.

The State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, gave this indication on Tuesday while fielding questions from journalists at a Ministerial Press Briefing commemorating the first year in office of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu held in Lagos, declaring that the possibility of reopening the worship centres in the state had been ruled out.

“Even before the pronouncement by the Federal Government, we have been having a meeting with the religious leaders, we even have one with the Safety Commission. Looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.

“We also had one with the leaders of the two faith and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, the possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.

“They claimed that they cannot take such responsibility of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them. Like an Imam said he doesn’t know what is going on at his back immediately he is leading a prayer. He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back he is not going to take responsibility for their presence.

“So in the meeting, we ruled out in totality the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so. The Federal Government mentioned it, but it never ruled out the state in achieving that pronouncement, so all states will have to look at the possibility of doing so in their respective states.

“We all know Lagos is still having more figures. So definitely, that will speak to our decision. But the governor of the state will come out with further directives from that directive. We will call the two faith together and discuss the pronouncement and I can assure you that they themselves will tell us not to do it,” the commissioner stated.

Speaking further, Elegushi said the state government had started the process of automating the processing of money lending licenses, pointing out that his ministry had since the commencement of the process a few months ago, received 207 applications out of which approvals were granted for 184 applicants.

Elegushi explained that the decision to automate the process of money lending licenses in the state was to ensure a hitch-free renewal and fresh applications by prospective applicants, adding that only one application had so far been declined by the ministry while 22 applications were currently being reviewed.

This was just as he stressed that the initiative would henceforth guarantee easy access to loan opportunities to residents of the state and ultimately provide employment for the youths.

“The initiative is cost-effective for grassroots financing and the requirements are simple and straightforward. The forms are available and the processes are very friendly. In addition, the automation of the money lending processes would help address several issues of trust that had overtime bedevilled the practitioners,” the commissioner assured.

Elegushi described the various money lenders across the state as the mini-micro economic stimulants that create jobs, generate wealth, alleviate poverty and widen the tax net, thereby increasing the socio-economic status of the state through the provision of enabling environment for small scale businesses and entrepreneurship.

He recalled that prior to the automation of the money lending processes; the ministry had earlier held a Stakeholders’ Forum on the need to examine the laws guiding the activities of money lenders in the state in order to make members of the public repose more confidence in the practitioners.

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