By M. Peter – Jos

The task force monitoring and enforcing government directives on curbing the spread of COVID-19 disease may spark up tension in Plateau State if they do not carry out their duty with decorum.

Already Christians in Plateau state have condemned the harassment and selective enforcement of the ban on social gathering which seems to be aimed at restricting Christian gatherings alone.

The task force has allegedly been engaging in intimidation and unlawful activities which portray them as being biased in the operation.

It would be recalled that the State government had on Tuesday last week taken some steps including the restriction of gathering of more than 50 people at a place and security agencies and monitoring to ensure compliance.

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On Thursday of the week, some religious leaders from the Christian community had meeting to work out modality on how members can best comply with the directive during this Sunday’s service but the task force clamped down on them beating and injuring them but no such action was taken when Muslim faithful gathered on Friday for prayers even while some went on a protest against the restrictions thereby fuelling fear of bias among citizens.

This happened even as the Plateau state government says it has not banned prayers at mosques.

Reacting to the development, the Senior Pastor of Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA Goodnews, Jos, Rev. Charles Dah whose Church was invaded by the taste force expressed displeasure.

He told journalists on Sunday in Jos, “We want to set the records straight in the afterwards of the shocking event that took place within our Church premises on the 26th day of March, 2020 at about 5.45pm. As a congregation, we support the federal and. State Governments’ efforts towards curtailing and containing the Coronavirus in Nigeria and in Plateau.

“Unfortunately, we were shocked that despite taking steps to stay within government guidelines, it appears the Church is being unduly targeted by overzealous security personnel in the purported bid to enforce Government’s directives. The directives as contained in the Governor’s broadcast states clearly that:

“‘No congregation of more than 50 people at places of worship etc, and strict observance of 2-meters social distancing where up to 50 people congregate, as well as the provision of hygiene materials such as water, soap and sanitizers…’, among my other regulation must be observed.

Christians in Plateau condemn harassment, selective enforcement of ban on social gathering Reverend Soja Bewarang, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Plateau state.

“As a Church, we have drawn up modalities to hold our Sunday services to adhere to government restrictions, sadly on Thursday, a few of our members were attacks, harassed and severely beaten by men of the Operation Safe Haven within the premises of the Church. Among those who sustained injuries was a medical personnel. They bundled him into their Hilux van and later released him after he identified himself as a medical doctor.”

Dah wondered what their crime was, adding, “They were found right within the Church premises and the total number of members present did not exceed 30 when the team of security officers from Operation Safe Haven stormed the Church premises. The question is, did the Governor’s directive completely ban persons from going to Church?

“Did the Governor authorized men of the taste force to brutalize and assault anybody seen within any premises? What crime did our members commit to warrant the brutality visited on them by members of the task force?”

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He asked that the security personnel “must not selective or biased in their enforcement but should demonstrate justice and fairness towards all Nigerians” and demand apology from the task force urging that they be curtailed “to avoid the violation of the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.”

However, videos had emerged last week on various social media platforms showing a popular Jos-based Islamic preacher asking followers to discard the disease as it was a scam targeted at stopping Muslims from going to Mosque and this has drawn the irk of citizens.

But the state government responded to such flagrant disobedient lightly.

The Secretary to the State Government, Professor Danladi Atu while briefing journalists on Saturday only said government will not tolerate violation of the ban.

“Government takes exception to the non-challant and flagrant disregard of the directives by some individuals and groups who have remained recalcitrant. They have also mobilised their followers to disobey the orders of Government, which is meant to protect the lives of the people. Let me categorically make it clear that nobody is above the law and government is taking necessary action.”