LAGOS, Nigeria (Christian Examiner) – Africa's largest city shut down 70 churches and 20 mosques in late June over what it said was excessive noise.
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The move by the city of Lagos, Nigeria – which has a population approaching 20 million – has startled church members, although the controversy dates back to 2007, according to the Vanguard, a Nigeria newspaper. The city had shut down 10 churches by 2009 and in 2014 alone closed 24 churches.
Bola Shabi, an official with the Lagos Environmental Protection Agency, said it is part of a goal of making the city "noise free" by 2020.
"We've been so strict now that we are not going to even allow make-shift churches in the state any longer," Shabi told the Vanguard. "What I mean by make-shift, using tents and uncompleted building, we are not going to allow that any further in the state."
The government investigates incidents when it gets complaints from neighbors, the Associated Press reported.
The city also has shut down hotels and night clubs, although churches make up the majority of buildings that have been shuttered.
"It is not right for mosques and churches to disturb other people with noise from their activities, simply because they are worshipping God," Tunji Bellow, the city's then-Commissioner for the Environment, told the Vanguard in 2014. "Worshipping God should not come with so much discomfort to others. The ugly situation we have in some parts of the state is between four and five churches and mosques on one street blaring so much noise at the same time, thereby disturbing the peace of others. This is unacceptable and we can no longer tolerate this."