Sheikh Muhammad Sani Yahaya Jingir, the Jos based Imam who said last Friday he would not abide by the COVID-19 restrictions on movement has changed his mind. He is not only in the mood to comply with all such restrictions but is also asking Nigerian governments at all levels as well as well-to-do Nigerians to support underprivileged Nigerians faced with confinement or closure of places of business by alleviating the difficulties of hunger such people will be facing.
A statement by the National Executive Council of Jama’atu Izalatil Bid’ah Wa’ikamatis Sunnah, (JIBWIS) declared absolute compliance of the Sheikh and his followers with health, safety and social measures taken by the Federal and State Governments against the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Not only that, the organisation has already implemented safety measures, such as provision of hand sanitizers in offices and places of worship, distancing policy and closed all its Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Schools with over 7- million pupils/students nationwide, said Shiekh Nasiru AbdulMuhyi, the National Chairman in charge of Administration who signed the statement.
Sheikh Jingir had raised the alarm of religious rebellion against government on the lock down approach and the implications of such rebellion for religious harmony in a state such as Plateau. His vehemence at last Friday’s congregational prayers caught the attention of Muslim leaders as well as their Christian counterparts, followed by hostile reactions. A lot of waters must have passed under the bridge since then in terms of back channel diplomacy to which this statement testifies.
With Sheikh Jingir’s dramatic backing down, the initial resistance of religious nature to abridgement of freedom of movement seems to have faded and everyone is on the same page that all hands be on deck to confront a threat much less understood on the continent than where industrial civilisation is much more consolidated.
This is more so that, according to the statement, the organisation has, additionally terminated its National Seminar for Qur’anic Recitation Judges, Imams and other juristic participants, saying it considered that a restatement of commitment to government’s initiatives against the escalation of COVID-19 and any measure that seeks to promote public safety and welfare of Nigerians at what it calls “this critical period in our history”.
And JIBWIS leadership is commending the Plateau State as well as the Federal Government for taking measures it says are appropriate in furtherance of public safety, security and welfare of the people although it is asking governments to do more. Doing more, it thinks, is achievable if the governments ensure effective implementation of distribution of relief measures to deserving beneficiaries.