President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday reiterated his call on Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and understanding over the inconveniences created by precautionary measures taken to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the regulations on places of worship.
In his Sallah message to Muslims on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir celebration, President Buhari said the outbreak of coronavirus had made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as was in the past.
He urged worshipers to abide by the guidelines for the safety of their lives, and loved ones.
The president said: “The coronavirus has had devastating adverse impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives.
“The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease have unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in Mosques and Churches.
“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faithful to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through the social distancing.
“No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of people that will gather in worship centres at the same time.
“The guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should, therefore, not be perceived as infringement on people’s right to worship.’’
President Buhari commended the sacrifices of Muslims and Christians in abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines for the good of society.
“On our own part, we shall continue to provide economic reliefs to the people to minimize the unintended hardships these guidelines have inflicted,” he said
The president reminded worshippers that COVID-19 is a worldwide affliction with Churches and Mosques closed around the world, while social distancing had been imposed to safeguard public health.
“Muslims should imbibe the noble virtues of our great prophets in order to establish closer connectivity between religious teachings and practice.
“We can create the greatest impact by putting into practice the noble teachings of our religion. In whatever we do in life, we must put the fear of God in our daily activities in order to make our society better,” Buhari said.
On the anti-corruption war, he said his efforts had so far brought a lot of changes in the country’s polity, and appealed for further support and understanding.
Senate greets Muslims
The Senate and its president, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan Thursday felicitated with Nigerians on this year’s Eid-el-Kabir celebration.
In separate statements , the upper legislative chamber and its chief presiding officer called on Nigerians, particularly the Muslim Ummah , to, in the spirit of sacrifice which Eid-del-Kabir represents let the virtue reflect in their daily activities .
They called on Muslims in particular and Nigerians generally, to be wary of the COVID-19 pandemic that is still ravaging the entire world by adhering to the various precautionary measures rolled out by government at all levels.
Specifically, the Senate’s message signed by its spokesperson, Senator Ajibola Basiru, reads: “With patience and endurance, whatever we besiege Allah for will be done, and with the two virtues combined with piety, Nigeria will scale hurdles in all spheres of development.
“As Muslims, we must always remember that Islam emphasises cleanliness and hygiene, therefore, as we rejoice in this festive season, we should follow strictly all safety regulations to keep coronavirus at bay.”
Lawan in his own message, enjoined Nigerians to be mindful of the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic and adhere strictly to the safety protocols prescribed by public health authorities.
The National Assembly, he said, was collaborating with the executive in responding to the pandemic as it affects our economy and general public system.
In a similar message, Speaker House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has urged Muslims to rededicate themselves to their creator, and pray for the country during this period of Eid-el-Kabir.
Gbajabiamila said the need for prayers had become more pressing at this time that the coronavirus pandemic was ravaging the world, including Nigeria.
He said with fervent prayers, Nigeria would be able to surmount the numerous challenges bedevilling the country, including insecurity.
In a Sallah message through his spokesman, Mr. Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker also urged Nigerians, irrespective of their differences, to embrace one another and be united for the progress of the country.
He also called on religious leaders to preach unity and peaceful coexistence among the citizens at this time and always.
He said Muslims should imbibe the virtues of selflessness, generosity, brotherliness and accommodating nature of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Gbajabiamila further used the opportunity to call on leaders to keep their contracts with the Nigerian people as that is the only way they can make meaningful impact in the lives of the citizens.
In a similar message, former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, has sent warm felicitations to the Nigerian Muslim Ummah on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, urging them to pray for the peace, unity, and security of the nation.
This was even as he called on the federal government to take immediate steps to end the killings in the country, warning that Nigeria was fast becoming a killing field.
In his Sallah message to the Nigeria’s Muslim community, Ekweremadu said: “I felicitate with our Muslim brothers and sisters on this occasion of Eid-el-Kabir. The occasion calls for rededication to the fine principles of sacrifice, justice, and equity as exemplified by the Prophet and without which no nation can ever make any progress.
“It is also not lost on us that this is a very dire time for Nigeria, as our Muslim brethren and the nation celebrate Sallah in a state of grave apprehension, with many of them displaced by the worsening insecurity. This Sallah, therefore, serves as an opportunity to offer special prayers for the peace, unity, prosperity, and security of our country.
“I equally call on the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, to take every necessary and urgent step to arrest this parlous situation where Boko Haram and allied insurgents, bandits, criminal aliens, kidnappers, and all manners of predatory elements have field days killing civilians and even men of the armed forces alike without corresponding or greater consequences”, he said.
Ekweremadu wished Nigerians, a happy Sallah celebration, charging them also to stay safe, observing the protocols and guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Archbishop harps on security
Also in his message, the Archbishop of Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan, Most Rev. Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin advised Nigerians to be security conscious, and avoid areas of dangers in their movements and actions.
Abegunrin gave the advice in a statement Thursday to felicitate with Muslims in Oyo state on the celebration of this year’s Eid-el- Kabir celebrations.
In a statement personally signed by him, the cleric said in addition to being security conscious, there is the need for the Christians and Muslims in Nigeria to team up in prayers for God to heal Nigeria and the whole World of COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we celebrate this Sallah, let us avoid areas of danger in our movements and actions.Let us be security conscious. Happy Sallah Celebration,” he said
Abegunrin also said: “It is my prayer that God will look upon our sacrifices, both Muslims and Christians, and heal our world and particularly our country Nigeria of COVID-19.”
He also congratulated Oba Saliu Adetunji, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, the Chief Imam of Ibadanland and other prominent Muslim leaders in the state on the occasion.
“As-salaamu ‘alaykum! Peace be upon you! On behalf of the priests, religious and the lay faithful of Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan, I wish to felicitate with the Olubadan of Ibadan land – Oba Saliu Adetunji,The Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland – Alh. Dawud Akinola,The Chief Imam of Ibadan land, Sheikh Abdul-Ganiyu AbuBakar Agbotomokekere, snd all Muslims in Oyo State, on the occasion of the year 2020 Eid al-Kabir celebration – the feast of Sacrifice,” he said .
“I am aware that this feast is usually accompanied by holy pilgrimage to Mekka for those who can afford it. Unfortunately, this important pillar of Islam has been made impossible this year by Coronavirus pandemic,” the cleric said
“Once again, I express my best wishes to all Muslims, And as you celebrate the feast of Eid al-Kabir, I wish you God’s abundant blessing.”
Police ban horse riding
Meanwhile, the Niger state police command has suspended all forms of Durban and riding of horses during the Sallah celebrations warning that violators would be arrested, prosecute and their horses confiscated.
The state Commissioner of Police, Adamu Usman stated this Thursday while speaking with Blueprint on the preparedness of the command in ensuring a peaceful Eid-el-Kabir celebrations in the state.
Usman also warned miscreants and hoodlums to keep away from the state, adding that the command was ready as always to deal ruthlessly with criminals and ensure adequate security of lives and property especially during the festive period.
He said: “I wish to re-emphasise to the members of the public that the Command will not tolerate any form of horse riding activities during the Sallah period and that horse owners and parents should warn their wards against horse riding within the period. I want to warn that anyone found involving in such act shall be arrested and such horse will be confiscated”.
He explained that the Command had in place adequate security measures before, during and after the Sallah period and assured of peaceful Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
“Parents/guardians are hereby admonished to caution their wards against any form of public disturbance as the Command will not hesitate to clamp down on any miscreant who may want to disrupt public peace”, he warned.
The CP e called on Muslims to use the period to pray for the state and the nation as a whole in this trying time of COVID-19, adding that they should report any suspicious movement or incident to law enforcement agencies