Despite the directive by the Ondo State Government banning the annual “cross over” vigil across churches on the night of December 31, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ondo State has said its members will go ahead with the programme.
The Chairman of CAN, Ayo Oladapo, told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone on Monday that the “association was yet to receive any official statement directing it not to hold the cross over vigils”.
Last week, the Chairman, Ondo State Interministerial Committee on Coronavirus, who is also the Vice-Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Adesegun Fatusi, directed that the usual vigils to usher in the new year among churches would not hold due to the need to curtail the spread of the second wave of COVID-19.
“The committee had extensive interaction with various stakeholders, physically and virtually, on the need to take proactive measures against the second wave of COVID-19,” he said.
“The state is working assiduously to ensure it recorded no substantial case during the second wave of the pandemic.”
Mr Fatusi urged residents to pay due attention to the precautionary measures put in place to safeguard them.
He said no church service organised in respect of the new year celebration must exceed 10 p.m. in line with the federal government’s directive.
But Mr Oladapo said the association was not consulted and so was not aware of a directive not to hold the vigils.
“As at (of) this hour, there is no official position or any document that I have seen that is against the cross over,” he said.
“The statement issued by the state government did not say we should not observe the cross over.
“We have cross-checked with the government, the government did not say we should not observe it.
“However, there was this curfew declared by the Federal Government and I guessed it has been announced before now.
“That announcement is not only for December 31. People have been moving between that time and now, I don’t know why people are making issues out of December 31.
“The 31st is a day people will go and pray and launch into the new year. They will pray for the government, and for the society.
“We have said since we have not seen any document to that effect, people should go ahead and observe it in line with the tradition of their church,” he said.
Ondo is not the only state to announce a ban on the cross over vigils this year. A similar ban was announced in Ogun State. However, the Ogun CAN has appealed to the state government to allow churches to hold the vigils while adhering to COVID-19 protocols such as the use of face masks and social distancing.