His Eminence, Sheikh Yahya Olorunosebi Oshoala Ajagbemokeferi (As – Samadani), the Chief Imam of Oriwu Central Mosque, Ikorodu Division, has stated that reopening of religious places is long overdue.
The eminent Islamic scholar and retired civil servant also stated that the Oriwu Central Mosque is ready for the reopening in line with the government directives.
Sheikh Oshola said this in an interview with THE IMPACT at his Itunmoja home, on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
“To me, it’s long overdue, though, government is thinking well for the community and also mean well for the well being and healthy living of residents. This notwithstanding, Mosques and Churches shouldn’t have been places to close first”, he said.
“After the total lockdown, the market and some other centres were reopened, while religious centres remained locked. Despite this, some people, probable government officials, who are just looking for what to eat were still going about to see if the mosques and churches are operating in a bid to witch-hunt people”, he alleged.
“I was told time without number that security people came around (to Oriwu Central Mosque) to see whether we are abiding by the dictate of the government or not. As a law – abiding citizen and somebody who knows what the law is and the position of the government, I will be the last person to flout the order of the Lagos State Government”.
The Islamic scholar reiterated that the reopening should have been done earlier, while also stating that the COVID – 19 pandemic is a calamity from God.
“The reopening is coming too late. They should have done this a long time ago. This is what they should have done initially.
“The COVID 19 is a calamity from God and thanks Almighty Allah that we have been able to overcome it. The pandemic is also not that devastating here as it is in other parts of the world like Asian, American and European countries. The reopening is long overdue”.
The Chief Imam of Oriwu Central Mosque also told our reporter that the mosque is ready to reopen in line with the directives of the government.
He, however, said that the only condition that the Mosque is finding difficult to comply with is the age limit of those that can be part of the congregation.
Sheikh Oshoala, who stated that Oriwu Central Mosque, located at the Ikorodu garage roundabout, is spacious enough to allow for social distancing, also added that the necessary facilities and sensitization ahead of the resumption of worship have been put in place.
He added that he has already summoned major stakeholders within the Central Mosque to brainstorm and take positions on the government’s directives.
“It is unfortunate that we learnt about the government’s directive regarding the reopening just yesterday (Tuesday, August 4) but l have already called the meeting of the executive council, Mosque’s chiefs, Chief Imams of Central Mosques all over the Ikorodu Division that are under Oriwu Central Mosque representing the League of lmams and Alfas in the Division. Also,l have had meetings with Imam of Ratibis ( affiliated mosques), Alfas, those from the societies and the secretariat of the Mosque”, Sheikh Oshoala said.
“At the meeting, we were able to establish that the information that we should reopen the mosque is true and it is directly from the government because it appeared like a rumor to us when we first heard about it. We are just trying to be careful with information on the social media platforms. We were able to verify that it is true that the government has asked us to reopen the mosque.
“We also looked at the conditions for reopening one after the other, digested them and saw that the most difficult of them is the age limit of who can attend mosque service. It would be very difficult for us to determine the ages of our members”, he said.
“There are some who look much young but old in age and there are some that are young but look older. People don’t tell the truth about their ages in our country. Look at what our footballers do with their ages when they are about plying their trade abroad, the same thing goes for our civil servants.
“I know why government is worry about the age – limit of those that can be part of the worship but we don’t know how to determinant that, but we conclude that we should make general announcement in various jurisdiction that government directive prevent anybody from 65 years and above to attend Mosques for now and that it is for the people’s benefits. That is only part of the directive that we don’t know how to control yet”, he added.
Speaking on other conditions stipulated by the Lagos State Government for the reopening, Sheikh Oshoala said:
“On the number of congregations, for Oriwu Central Mosque, we don’t have any problem. As large as our congregation is, we have been unable to occupy 1/3 of the space that we have in the mosque since we have started praying there.
“All that we needed to do is to spread out to ensure that there is distance among congregants. We still have the upper floor which we have never occupied before; there is the underground space with very few people usually praying there; also the Ratibi area, which has not been fully occupied, is also there for our people to spread to. Even, if many more people join us, there is no way they can occupy 50% of the Mosque’s capacity because our space is very large and the situation has presented us the opportunity to use our capacity to the fullest”, he said.
“We have purchased thermometers as directed and also sanitiser and hand washing equipment, We have also started sensitizing our people through the Ratibis to give them necessary orientations and to ensure that they abide with the dictates of the government.
“We have also started fumigation of the Mosque and we are still going to be cleaning it regularly. So, we are very much ready”.