The Lagos State Government on Monday disclosed that it has saved over N4.5 billion from the discontinued sponsorship of pilgrims to holy lands.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Abdulhakeem Abdullateef disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
He stated that before the present administration, N1.5 billion was spent yearly on pilgrimages.
According to him, in the last three years that the state government had not sponsored pilgrims, it had cumulatively saved N4.5 billion.
Abdullateef said when Governor Akinwunmi Ambode came in, he stopped it, with pilgrims sponsoring themselves on the trip.
The commissioner said the fund saved had helped the governor to provide social amenities like roads for the good use of residents and visitors to the state.
He also said the state government would not tolerate conversation of residential buildings into religious centres without government’s approval, maintaining that it was a violation of the state’s building code to use residential apartments for religious centres.
Abdullateef stated that government would also not condone tagging residential buildings as religious buildings to avoid paying Land Use Charge.
On those blocking roads to observe prayers or convert roads to places of worship, he said the state government did not allow that, aside the fact that God did not allow it because prayers offered in such places were not accepted by God.
According to him, in situations where religious centres were having space constraints, they should device a means that would ensure they did not constitute nuisance to the community, advising that they could pray twice or have two services.
“The Ministry is presently inputting data of every places of worship located in the state on a centralised database to enable the state government access reliable data of churches, mosques and their locations, with a view to better factor the interests of religious bodies in state policies.
“It is expected that the policy, because of effective resource allocation and efficient management inherent in it would bring about extended benefits to many more churches and mosques in the state. At present, the website has over thirteen thousand data comprising both Muslim and Christian religious organisations across the state,” he said.