COVID19 protocol: Worshippers accuse Taskforce of bribery

COVID19 protocol: Worshippers accuse Taskforce of bribery

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Some worshippers from churches in Edo State have accused Edo State Government Coronavirus (COVID19) Taskforce of engaging in alleged bribery and corrupt practices.

A MEMBER OF EDO STATE COVID-19 MONITORING TEAM, MRS GRACE IREOTOI (LEFT) ENFORCING COMPLIANCE TO SAFETY PROTOCOLS RELEASED BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT, AT THE HOLY CROSS CATHEDRAL, IN BENIN CITY, ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2021. 

This followed a visit to churches on Sunday by members of the Taskforce to enforce compliance to safety protocol released by the state government to check the spread of the second wave of the pandemic.

Worshippers of a popular Pentecostal church situated on the Benin-Sapele road (name withheld) who spoke to newsmen on condition of anonymity, alleged that the State Government Coronavirus (COVID19) Taskforce have made it a routine visit to the Headquarters of the Church, without necessarily enforcing compliance to safety protocol, but to demand money from persons without face masks.

But the church authorities have insisted that they have complied with the Government order on compulsory use of face masks in the public while violators of Covid-19 protocol were locked out.

“Those members locked outside for either coming late or without facemasks were being harassed by the State Government Coronavirus (COVID19) Taskforce. They threaten to arrest the members without their facemask standing outside the church.

“This have continued to happen every Sunday service. Today, after a heated argument between the State Government Coronavirus (COVID19) Taskforce, and our church members.

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“Some of the worshippers who didn’t want to be taken to the mobile court for not wearing their facemask went into negotiation by settling with huge sum of money with the State Taskforce to avoid been arrested”, the source said.

Efforts to get the comment of the
Edo State Government Coronavirus (COVID19) Taskforce to react on the alleged corrupt practices were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the Edo State Government Coronavirus (COVID19) Taskforce on Sunday said it visited churches to enforce compliance to safety protocols released by the state government to check the spread of the second wave of the pandemic.

The state government monitoring team led by Mrs Grace Ireotoi and Mrs Irene Uwabor visited Holy Cross Cathedral, All Souls Anglican Church, Christ Victory Bible Church, St. John Vianney Catholic Church, among others in the state capital, Benin City, to ensure that the churches abide by government’s directives.

In a statement in Benin City and made available to journalists, Mrs Grace Ireotoi, commended the worship centres for insisting that worshippers abide by the new directives.

“The second wave of the COVID-19 is real. We want to see for ourselves if the churches are observing social distancing and if provision was made for hand washing facilities. We also wanted to observe if worshipers are adhering to the directives on compulsory wearing of face masks. These preventive measures are strictly to be adhered to by churches.

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“Within the church, things are going on smoothly, but it is a different ball game outside. Social distancing is not being observed. We have spoken to the heads of the protocol units and they have promised to work on it, but for the use of facemask, the compliance is 98 per cent,” she said.

Mrs Irene Uabor also commended the worshippers for observing the safety measures to check the spread of the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, noting, “Everybody had their facemasks on. It is like they are all aware of the virus and understand the reason behind putting on facemasks and observing social distancing which is commendable”.

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