Christians in Ogun and Ekiti states trooped into their churches on Sunday for the first time since last March following the relaxation of restriction of religious activities by the Governors Dapo Abiodun and Kayode Fayemi.
Muslims on Friday also had the opportunity to attend Juma’at services.
The Nation correspondents observed that the churches and worshippers observed the COVID-19 protocols as directed.
The churches observed provided hand washing basins, soups, sanitisers and temperature monitors. They also ensured that no worshipper was allowed entry without a face mask.
Physical distancing was well maintained. Some even had banners educating their congregation on how to avoid the COVID-19 virus.
Some of the churches visited by our reporters in Ogun State are the Living Faith Church Worldwide (aka Winners Chapel) in Ota and Abeokuta; the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Idi – Aba, Abeokuta; Foursquare Gospel Church, Mupin 2, in Ota and St. Leo Catholic Church, Otun Abeokuta Diocese.
To ensure social distancing, Winners Chapel provided tents outside its main auditorium (the Faith Tabernacle) to ensure that physical distancing was complied with by thousands of worshippers.
At the entrance of the auditorium, banner s with the inscription “No facemask, no entry” welcomed the worshippers.
There were also designated exit points where members of the church had no physical contact with each other after the service.
Presiding Bishop David Oyedepo, who described the church as the healthiest in Nigeria , again berated the government for shutting down places of worship.
He wondered why the government did so but left markets open without restraint.
He said: “The church is God’s heritage on earth. Molest the wife of somebody and you will see the anger of that person. The church is the bride of Christ. You know how a strong man is when you tamper with his wife.
“The church is the body of Christ. We are under obligation to give warnings to wicked rulers so we could be free from their blood.”
The cleric also queried the move by the Corporate Affairs Commission to remove trustees of the registered entities and close their accounts without the validation of a court. He argued that churches ought not be included.
“This will never work for the church works on the pattern delivered by God not the pattern of man. Government has no power to appoint people over churches. This is a secular nation.
“I am waiting for a day when anybody will appoint a trustee over this church. You can’t gag anybody. We own this country together,” he said.
At St. Leo Catholic Church, Otun, Abeokuta Diocese, Rev. Fr. Lawrence Ogundipe, advised parishioners to adhere to government’s precautionary measures against COVID-19.
He also promised that all guidelines against the spread of the virus would be applied during all services held by the church.
At the RCCG Jesus Centre Family, Omida area of Abeokuta, there was, a low turnout of Christian faithful.
The pastor in charge, Lakan Badru, however expressed joy at having members back to church after a long period.
Badru appealed to members to use the reopening of churches as an opportunity to support the government in seeking divine intervention for an end to the pandemic.
There was also low turnout of worshippers in Ekiti following the reopening of churches in the state .
The low turnout may be as a result of the government’s directives barring people below ages 12 and those above 65 from going to church.
Churches visited in Ado-Ekiti and Ikere-Ekiti include Emmanuel Cathedral, Okesa, Christ Apostolic Church and the Gospel Faith Mission International (GOFAMINT), Ikere-Ekiti..
Like the churches in Ogun State, worshippers were made to strictly observe the COVID-19 rules.