How the din of churches, the loudspeakers of mosques affect

By Chioma Okezie-Okeh

“To repent or you will die,” shouted a man in his late 60s as his voice echoed from a loudspeaker hanging from a tree. He could be spotted at a regular spot along Canoe Road at Ajao Estate, Okota in Lagos. Residents and business owners seem to have lost hope that one day he would voluntarily move.

Residents who spoke with Sunday from Saturday claim that he picks up every day around 5 a.m. and stays until about 10 p.m. and they all know him as Baba. For an average Nigerian, Baba pollutes the air with noise in the name of evangelism.

The noise generated by its loudspeaker is similar to that endured by many Nigerians who are forced to live with the noise of loudspeakers mounted by religious houses in residential areas.

Years ago, the Lagos State government proposed a law to reduce noise pollution in the state, to reduce the excesses of some who, under the guise of religious or social gatherings, had repeatedly disturbed the peace of the inhabitants.

Shortly after the enactment of the law, the state, through its Ministry of Environment and another agency, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) , sprang into action, cracking down on some of the centers that allegedly made noise and thus broke the law. .

LASEPA Chief Executive Mr. Rasheed Shabi reportedly explained that the agency’s position on noise pollution has been communicated to all worship centers. It specifies that the level of noise pollution authorized is 55 decibels during the day and between 42 and 45 decibels at night.

Sleeping pills, relocation to the rescue

Some residents who spoke with Sunday from Saturday about the effects on their daily lives have called on the Lagos State government to be tough on enforcement. While some said they needed to move to less noisy areas, others resigned themselves to their fate while looking for alternative ways to lessen the effect on their health.

An architect, Mr Segun Odunlade, said he saved himself and his family by moving to an estate that does not allow religious houses or outdoor parties. “I used to live on an open street in Gbagada before high blood pressure (BPH) took me to a closed estate. I moved into the new estate and inside our estate no churches or mosques are allowed. Even if you choose to commune, your neighbor should not hear your voice. The organizing parties come with the authorization of the management. In my new domain, you’re expected to turn off your noisy generator once it’s midnight. You are only allowed if you have a Lister builder. This is why most of the inhabitants use solar energy. I am a member of the redeemed Christian Church of God and do not play with my religion or fellowship with other Christians. We have a big building and you cannot tell there is a speaker as soon as you enter the church. Let’s learn to respect each other’s religion and stop imposing our ideas and beliefs on people,” he said.

Another Lagosian, simply identified as Chief Ufondu who lives at Chevron Drive in the Lekki area of ​​the state, called on the government to create an area in each area where religious bodies can come to worship. He said: “It’s not just churches and mosques that are to blame for all this noise pollution. Those throwing parties in their compound with blaring loudspeakers need to be warned. Not everyone in this country can afford to live in a well-organized estate. It’s punishment enough to spend hours in traffic and come home to meet madness in the name of evangelism. Insomnia is now a way of life in Lagos.

Contrary to the majority calling for laws to stop the use of loudspeakers, Ms Nonyelum Okeke, a member of a grassroots Pentecostal church, thought more churches should turn up the volume on their loudspeakers. She said, “I know you are a journalist but don’t let the devil use you to destroy the world. We do not suffer from bad government but from sin. In the past, many churches used to do evangelism. Now they don’t have time. There was common sense in the country. These days, people pretend to read their Bibles on their phones while watching porn. It is necessary that the few people who are still normal shout it. To repent. Every day that we stop people from preaching, the world is finished. »

Regarding the effects of noise on people’s health due to sleep deprivation, Ms Okeke wondered why people sleep in church.

“Haven’t you observed that despite the loudspeakers in churches and parties, people are still dozing? It’s not the church that keeps people up at night, it’s their sin. Give your life to Christ and you will sleep like one baby,” she advised.

For his part, an Islamic teacher in Ajegunle, Mustapha Abdullahi insisted that the existence of these speakers is to help Muslims wake up and pray. “I am an Islamic teacher and also a trader. Sometimes when we are busy chasing money, we forget to pray to the giver of life, wisdom and money. These calls to prayer are a reminder and even as a Christian it should serve as a reminder.

“In our mosque, prayers don’t last more than 30 minutes and that’s it. Every Lagosian is woken up at 5:30 a.m. if they don’t want to be stuck in traffic. I am not in favor of those who disturb people all night long. It’s not good,” he said.

Ms. Nneka Nwosu, a petty trader from Ajegunle neighborhood in Lagos, said Sunday from Saturday she could sleep soundly only after taking sleeping pills. “I am a small trader, I have to get up at 5am to be able to go to Oyingbo market where I buy fresh pepper, Uziza and Utazi leaves. This is how I survive on my four children in Lagos. I am not against the church behind my house. The problem I have is that they hold vigils every night. They shout all the time and some of We have trouble sleeping. Every day I go to bed around 11:00 p.m. and resorted to sleeping pills to sleep well despite the noise. The pastor cursed me individually for knocking on their door. That’s why they don’t progress at all. They forced me to join their church from my room. I don’t bother going to church anymore,” she said.

Another Lagos resident, Catherine, a journalist, said she lost hope in the system when a church that had been closed due to noise pollution resumed and continued to disrupt the neighborhood. She said: “I live in Aguda, Surulere area of ​​Lagos. The most annoying thing is that when you report them, they close the church and reopen it again. Last year, I personally went to Itire LCDA and filed a complaint. I made sure the church knew I was the one behind their misfortunes after they closed.

“Two weeks later they resumed but removed the speakers. Three months later they brought the speakers back and one of the members who saw me standing outside the door of my house had the nerve to tell me I was an agent of the devil. The person who is a male and an elder told me that I was wasting my time pointing them out.

“I gave up and adapted. The only good thing is that my work schedule allows me to sleep in the morning. It’s unfortunate but the fact remains that bad things are still on the increase.

Also a lawyer, Tony Ache, who resides at Ago Palace Way in the Okota district of Lagos, is bitter. He literally screamed when asked about the noise pollution: “They should be arrested and charged with attempted murder. The situation is bad and I reported them individually. I had to employ a driver because I slept together while I drove. How can I sleep when the church next to our house refused to allow us to have our peace? I even walked into the church one day and realized they had less than 30 members in the church. Why the hell do you need a loudspeaker to address such a small crowd? I wrote petitions many times, and when the task force came to harass them a bit, they stopped. Weeks later, they resumed. We live in a lawless country where the rulers and those who are ruled commit crimes with impunity. We need laws to stop them – both offending churches and mosques – to save the lives of Nigerians. How can you be creative when you are always struggling with headaches? »

Closed by the government

But you can’t totally accuse the state government of totally turning a blind eye to the activities of religious houses that cause noise pollution in the state.

In 2009, the Lagos State government closed a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and two parishes of the Mountain of Fire Miracles Church, MFM, due to noise pollution.

In February 2012, LASEPA closed seven churches for violating the Environmental Pollution Act. The churches, which fell under the ax of LASEPA, include the charismatic ministry chosen by the Lord; Bible Church, FESTAC; the branch of Christ Church, Oregon; Assemblies of God Church, Ikeja; Golden Gate Church, Ifako-Ijaiye and Seek and Save Ministry, Abule Egba.

Also in May 2012, affected churches included the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Mission Church, Anthony Village; Christ Chosen Church, Onipanu and Evangelical Apostolic Church, while two mosques, Darusalam Mosque in Sabo, Yaba and Ayegbesin Mosque in Mafoluku, Oshodi have been included.

In January 2014, the Transfiguration and Solution Bible Church, accused of noise pollution, was closed days after some residents of Sebanjo Street in the Mushin area of ​​Lagos complained of sleepless nights due to frequent late night prayers. from the church.

Also in 2021, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) closed down three churches and two mosques in different parts of the metropolis due to noise pollution. The places of worship that fell under the hammer were Chosen Christ Church, Onipanu, Assemblies of God Church, Ikeja, Evangelical Apostolic Church, Darusalam Mosque in Sabo, Yaba and Ayegbesin Mosque in Mafoluku Oshodi .

Barry F. Howard