Covid – 19: Niger fires 3 Imams over Eid prayers violations, extends lockdown by 2 weeks

Niger state government has removed three Imams from their positions for violating rules put in place by the government for the conduct of Eid prayers during the Sallah celebrations.

It has also extended the lockdown of the state for another two weeks following the rise in numbers of confirmed Covid – 19 cases in the state.

The extension order was contained in a statement issued in Minna by the Chairman of the state Taskforce on Covid – 19, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane.

It was learnt that the number of confirmed Covid – 19 cases were hovering around 14 on May 13, 2019 when the lockdown was earlier extended by two weeks which expired on Wednesday May 27, with the state bagging more cases rising to 30 according to statistics from NCDC.

The SSG explained that the extension of the lockdown is as a result of the increase of confirmed cases in the state and the need to protect people of the State from contracting coronavirus.

He urged the people of the State to adhere strictly to the safety protocols of COVID-19 such as mandatory wearing of face mask in public places, observance of social distancing and regular hand washing with soap under running water

In another statement, the state Director General, Religious Affairs, Dr. Umar Faruq Abdullahi, has announced the removal of of Mallam Abdullahi Ndakogi of Batagi village under Bida Emirate who held an illegal congregational Eid prayer in Batagi Village.

According to the Director General, “Ndakogi has been stripped off his title as the Imam Ratibi of Batagi and has been replaced as at the time.”

The statement signed by the Personal Assistance to  the DG on Media, Mustapha Tauheed, said that, Mallam Muhammad Idris of Bosso Estate has equally been suspended for violating the rules set by the State Government on Tarawih and Tahajjud prayers, adding that the cleric has been directed to handover to his Na’eebi.

According to the Director General, “One Mallam Awwal Yusuf from Kontagora Emirate who used inciting words in his Eid sermon and blackmails has also been suspended from any public preaching for one year. 

“He must write a letter of undertaken to make peace and also apologize to government, Kontagora emirate and general public even though he has pleaded for mercy and claimed ignorance of his act. However, ignorance of the law, is not an excuse.”

The Director General said the affected clerics have been indicted by a 15 –man Crisis and Conflict Management Committee set up by his office aimed at checkmating the affairs of various Religious leaders and their activities in the state, adding that this is to curb the menace of religious crisis and falsehood ideology that could mislead the entire public, especially in this critical period of pandemic.

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