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COVID-19: Oyedepo condemns continued closure of churches despite lockdown relaxation

Bishop David Oyedepo, a popular preacher and founder of Living Faith Church Winners Chapel, has condemned the continued closure of churches, despite the recent relaxation of the lockdown by the Federal Government.

Oyedepo said it was an anomaly to sustain the restriction on religious gatherings, while markets, hospitals and other businesses were left to operate.

The cleric expressed this while delivering a sermon at the Covenant Hour of Prayer service held Wednesday morning at Faith Tabernacle, Canaanland, the church’s headquarters in Ota, Ogun State.

“There is something wrong, for people to be allowed to be in the market for six hours and cannot be in church for two hours, it is an upside-down way for looking at things,” Oyedepo said.

Churches in the country have remained closed, following a Federal Government ban on religious and social gatherings, as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

With the ban restricting large gatherings to a maximum of 20 persons, many churches have suspended physical services, resorting to holding online services.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown from 4th May 2020, thus, reopening the operation of banks and other business ventures in the country, from 6 am to 8 am.

“Which one is more orderly? The market or the church?” Oyedepo inquired from congregants during the service which was streamed online.

“I don’t know what hospital that records the kind of healings that the church of God records. And now hospitals, where people die every day, are open but the church is closed,” the cleric said.

“I can smell a rat. The Lord spoke to me on it strongly yesterday. I can smell a rat behind all this. It is how we stop the church from exploding.

“The voice of darkness are influencing people at various levels targeting the church because the growth and expansion of the church is the greatest headache of the devil. But the gates of hell shall not prevail.

“The devil and his agents shall surely pay for this,” Bishop Oyedepo noted.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the popular preacher had come under criticisms for holding Sunday services in March, despite government’s restriction on large gatherings, to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Shutting down churches would be like shutting down hospitals,” Oyedepo said during a Sunday service on March 22.

However, the cleric later clarified on the issue, downplaying his initial stance. He disclosed that his decision to hold Sunday services was to sensitize members and not in disregard to government directives.

Nigeria continues to battle the coronavirus scourge with 3145 confirmed cases. The virus has so far claimed 107 lives across the country.

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