Two pastors have been arrested and arraigned at a Kaduna State Chief Magistrate Court for holding church service last Sunday at the Sabon Tasha area of Chikun Local Government Area of the state, defying the lockdown order imposed by the state government to curb the spread of the COVID-19.
According to a statement by the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, the two clergymen, Pastor Ifeanyi Ojonu and Pastor Giniki Okafor were arraigned on two counts of Criminal Conspiracy and Disobedience to a legitimate order under sections 59 and 115 of the Penal Code of Kaduna State.
“Since the Government declared Kaduna State a Public Health area and Coronavirus a dangerous infectious disease 12 days ago, there have been various forms of violations of the Quarantine Law,” Aruwan stated.
He further explained that restriction of movement has been flouted by many residents and commercial hubs operating illegally, thereby forcing the state government to threaten to close the two-day window provided for residents to re-stock food supplies, should the people continue disobeying the Quarantine Law.
He, however, commended religious and traditional rulers who have urged their members to obey the government’s orders.
“The religious community has substantially complied with the lockdown as Muslim daily congregational prayers, including Jumma’at prayers, have been suspended. Likewise, church services have not been held,” Aruwan said.
“But some Muslim clerics held congregational prayers on March 27th, 2020, at Unguwar Kanawa and Malali areas of Kaduna North Local Government.
“They were promptly arrested and subsequently arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court on March 30th, 2020, to demonstrate government’s determination to prosecute violators of the Quarantine Law.
“Apparently, some clergymen misread the government’s strong signal, as they flouted the law and disobeyed the warning of various leaders of faith, by holding church service.
“The Government wishes to reiterate that nobody is above the law and everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. For this reason, the Quarantine Law will be applied without fear or favour, until the lockdown is duly lifted,”.
Meanwhile, the commissioner urged residents to report any infringement of fundamental human rights by either security agents or government officials.