ARUA. A section of residents in Terego constituencies, Arua district have challenged the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) task force to consider deploying more soldiers and police officers at sub-county level to implement the Presidential directive on the prevention of the virus.

The residents came under intense pressure after some members of the community continued to defy the Presidential directive aimed at controlling the spread of the contagious disease.

They accused some Christians of luring catechists and priests in Aii-vu, Uriama and Odupi sub-counties to continue leading Sunday prayers.

They also noted that some alcohol consumers have continued to communally drink the locally brewed potent gin in trading centres despite being aware of the ban on public gatherings.

In one of the chapels in Aii-vu sub-county, 9 people attended prayers last Sunday but one of them confessed and pledged not to repeat the mistake.

“In reality, we prayed for only five minutes, we merely made sign of cross but we were dispersed, we then advised the catechist to pay heed to the Presidential decree since he is guided by scientists to take the decision,” the Christian narrated.

Mr Richard Paciano who witnessed the prayer in the neighbourhood of the un-identified chapel condemned the practice on grounds that the lock down of the country is in good faith.

“The catechist should not mislead our people to contract this disease since that number of the congregation comprising of mainly the elderly and women is at high risk. I am expecting the security to move to such places to see whether people are really observing the directives,” Paciano remarked.

Uriama sub-county chairman Mr Lonzino Itrima said they cautioned the catechist who organized the prayers that was attended by a congregation comprising of 20 Christians in the sub-county two weeks ago.

“If Pope Francis discontinued prayers in Rome, who are you in our local churches here to organize communal prayers? If we relax, our people will die yet nobody is above the law. There is also laxity in the trading centres of Edrayio, Mengo and Luruja market in Ofua refugee camp under Rhino-camp refugee settlement that requires urgent attention,” Itrima stressed.

Mr Lonzino Itrima

Terego West Member of Parliament (MP) Mr Moses Angunduru also condemned the practice and warned the culprits to desist from the act.

“When the President was taking the decision, he consulted the top religious leaders in the country before, so it will be misleading for a catechist to defy the directive. Let us observe these guidelines to fight coronavirus in our country,” Angundru warned.

The communication secretary of Arua diocese Fr Tonino Pasolini said the position of the diocese is clear; “the doors of the churches must remain shut and all pastoral activates are suspended until things normalize”.

The guidelines to prevent spread of coronavirus were announced two weeks ago but the police in the sub-counties in the two constituencies were only seen in action on Tuesday after the total lock down was announced by the President on Monday.