IN Nigeria, the Governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu has begun a controversial crackdown on noisy churches and mosques, following scores of petitions to the environmental protection authority from people angry about the conversion of residential properties into places of worship.
While faith-based values remain a core inspiration to the 22 million inhabitants of the Nigerian metropolis, the vast majority of its people now identify places of worship as the biggest nuisance to public peace.
‘Mosques conduct prayers every five hours, with loud speakers mounted outside their buildings, to invite the faithful, while churches hold vigils using microphones that stop people from sleeping,’ says Sunday Oguntola, editor of the online edition of The Nation.
According to the Lagos-based journalist, hundreds of thousands of places of worship are also thought to be violating a noise pollution act passed five years ago.
Under the provisions of the legislation, the sound emanating from religious outfits and industries is meant to stay at 90 decibels during the day and 80 decibels at night.
The law requires churches and mosques to be noise proof and prohibits the installation of loudspeakers outside their premises.
Noisy vigils are also forbidden in residential areas.
The power of prayer
Oguntola believes it is the sensitive nature of religion in Nigeria which leads to many founders thinking they are above the law.
‘If you touch the mosques or the churches, they would cry out that you are persecuting them,’ he says.
The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency LASEPA swung into action after receiving scores of petitions from Lagosians angered by the illegal conversion of residential properties for religious use.
The agency in Africa’s most populated Nigeria’s most populated city remains under pressure to lead in best practices in curbing noise pollution, said to cause mental problems, hearing impairment and high blood pressure, according to a 2007 report by the World Health Organisation.