Thursday, December 10, 2015


11th December, 2015,

The Lagos State Environment Protection Agency (LASEPA) yesterday announced the shutting down of 53 churches, mosques and hotels in the state over noise pollution. The shut places of worship were accused of constituting nuisance to residents as they use residential places for their religious activities.   

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) gives kudos to LASEPA and the Lagos State Government (LASG) for taking this bold step.

This development is further proof that LASG is ready to walk its talk as Lagos is generally referred to as the center of excellence. It also proves that the state government is committed to the improvement of health of its citizens as well as the maintenance of decorum, civilized living, law and order.

We call on the owners of the affected religious houses, their pastors and Imams as well as Lagosians in general to take the action of LASEPA in good faith and to turn a new leaf. This is no case of victimization or abuse of fundamental human rights.

The fact is that Nigerians are fond of abusing religion. Nigeria is the only country in the world where people hide under the canopy of freedom of religion to infringe on Allah-given fundamental human rights of others.

It is our contention that ignorance, arrogance, callousness, lack of respect for the rule of law as well as crass impunity are factors responsible for noisemaking in places of worship. We therefore invite LASEPA to lay more emphasis on educating Lagosians on the effects of noise pollution on residents.  

Noise pollution has been largely responsible for falling academic standard in schools because noise from places of worship penetrate homes and distract students who are busy doing their school assignments, teachers who are marking their students’ scripts, lecturers who are busy researching in various fields of human endeavour, etc. It is an irony that the children of pastors and Imams who are responsible for the noise are also victims of their parents’ thoughtlessness.

Noisemaking also affects human health. It causes deafness, stress and sleeplessness (which may lead to high blood pressure and hypertension). Sick people who happen to live near places of worship may be sent to their early graves. It also causes poor productivity at work as workers whose sleep is disturbed at home end up dozing or even sleeping in their places of work.

More importantly, noise pollution has been responsible for road accidents and the attendant deaths over the years as motorists fall asleep on the wheel due to their inability to sleep soundly in the night as a result of noise from places of worship in their vicinity.   

We are aware that the 53 affected places of worship are not the only places where pandemonium reigns supreme in Lagos State. In fact there are hundreds of other offenders with whom nemesis has not caught up. We remind the authorities of such religious centers of the long arms of the law.   

MURIC laments the sad phenomenon of religious overzealousness in Nigeria as a whole and that of Lagos in particular. We are nonplussed at the high rate of corruption despite the proliferation of churches and mosques in the land. The leaders who stole billions of dollars which are currently being investigated were shuttling weekly between Jerusalem, Makkah and Abuja. Yet it did not stop them from pocketing our commonwealth and subjecting us to abject poverty.

We therefore charge LASG and its anti-enviromental pollution agency, LASEPA, to go one step further by banning preaching inside commercial vehicles.

It is so widespread that an attempt was even made last week to export it outside Nigeria when a pastor started preaching inside a London bus. Other passengers promptly shouted him down and the driver called in the police when the religious zealot refused to stop preaching.

LASG may also use its propaganda machinery to raise awareness in this regard. Preaching inside commercial vehicles is a keg of gun powder. It has created tension several times in the past and it is capable of causing religious crisis in the near future if the practice is not nipped in the bud.   

MURIC calls on the Lagos State House of Assembly to dust up its enabling laws on the protection of the environment. There should be enabling laws for the prosecution of those who endanger the lives of others by disturbing the peace.

We appeal to religious leaders to organize seminars and workshops for pastors, Imams and all those who manage places of worship. The seminars should come under themes like ‘Live and Let Live’, ‘Positive Use of Religion’, ‘Using Religion For Human Progress’, etc. The discussants should lay emphasis on the need for maintaining decorum and eliminating noise in places of worship.

In conclusion, we commend LASEPA for this bold action. The environmental agency must not relent in its effort to rid Lagos of environmental abuse. We appeal to LASG not to listen to blackmail from any quarter.

Lagos is the Center of Excellence and Lagos must get it right. We appeal to the pastors and Imams in the affected places of worship to take LASEPA’s action in good faith. We urge other places of worship to take the cue. We advise Nigerians to adopt moderation in their practice of religion. Lastly, we invite other states to emulate this great step taken by Lagos State.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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