Police arrest three priests for violating worship ban in Nigeria

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The News Agency of Nigeria reports three clergymen were arrested by police in the Delta State after they conducted public worship services in defiance of a government ban on public assembly to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday after, the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Onome Onovawakpyeya said the ministers in charge of St James Anglican Church, All Saints Anglican Church and Christ for the World Mission in Warri were detained along with approximately 20 members of their congregations.

Warri Area Police Commander, Mohammed Garba told reporters: “They had almost 100 worshippers in one of the Churches, you can imagine. We are going to charge them to court on Tuesday.” 

On 29 March 2020 President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the “cessation of all movements” for two weeks for Nigeria’s capital territory of Abuja and its largest city, Lagos. In a televised address he said: “All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes starting Monday,” 30 March 2020.

“Travel to or from other States should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period,” he said. The President said the restrictions, which also cover the Ogun State, neighbouring Lagos, do not apply to hospitals, food shops or petrol stations.

“Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored,” he added. State governments followed with their own lockdown orders to prevent the spread of the virus, which has so far been centered in Lagos and Abuja in the West African nation.

As of 15 April 2020 the Nigerian Center for Disease Control reported “407 cases have been confirmed, 128 cases have been discharged and twelve deaths have been recorded in Nigeria.” On 15 April “34 new cases are reported from five states- Lagos (18), Kano (12), Katsina (2), Niger (1), Delta (1).”