Coronavirus: Oyedepo holds service, vows to keep Winners Chapel open

A major Nigerian pentecostal preacher has vowed to continue holding Sunday service for thousands of his followers, spurning worldwide medical advisory against physical contact at a time of blazing coronavirus.

David Oyedepo brushed aside the potential hazards of his decision to defy government restrictions on social gatherings across Nigeria, saying some members would rather look up to Sunday service as the only viable means of treatment against COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus that has killed more than 15,000 people and left tens of thousands bedridden across the world.

“Shutting down churches would be like shutting down hospitals,” Mr Oyedepo said during March 22 Sunday service that streamed live online. “There are many, many places that would never have any medical solution but in church.”

Mr Oyedepo held the service at the headquarters of his Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) on the outskirts of Lagos on Sunday morning, the same day that Nigeria’s coronavirus infections jumped to 30 and health experts were raising alarm about the importance of social distancing.

A police spokesperson told PREMIUM TIMES officers showed up to ask Mr Oyedepo not to hold service for the health benefit of his members and society, but he proceeded nonetheless.

The preacher held two services within hours apart even though the government had placed an indefinite moratorium on religious gathering amidst scramble to contain the spread of the virus.