The recent Directives of President Mohammadu Buhari to lockdown Lagos, Ogun and Abuja over the spread of Coronavirus pandemic that is said to be fast-spreading, justifying his pronouncement during his broadcast to the nation has had Human Right Activist Ebun Adegboruwa, a senior advocate of Nigeria and noble Laureate, professor Wole Soyinka question the legality of the directive.
Urban Express News Online reports that the President ordered the lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun state in a bid to stop the spread in the country.
But the noble Laureate in a statement on Monday wondered if the president has power to order such lockdown
Wole Soyinka however, called on constitutional lawyers and lawmakers to clarify the legality or illegality of the lockdown.
He also warned against “constitutional piracy” in the fight against coronavirus in the country.
The statement, titled ‘Between COVID-19 and Constitutional Encroachment’, read in part, “Constitutional lawyers and our elected representatives should kindly step into this and educate us, mere lay minds. The worst development I can conceive of us is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the Coronavirus pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis.
“This is a time for Unity of Purpose, not nitpicking dissensions. So, before this becomes a habit, a question: does President Buhari have the powers to close down state borders? We want clear answers. We are not in a war emergency.
“Appropriately focussed on measures for the saving lives, and committed to making sacrifices for the preservation of our communities, we should nonetheless remain alert to any encroachment on constitutionally demarcated powers. We need to exercise collective vigilance, and not compromise the future by submitting to interventions that are not backed by law and constitution.
“Who actually instigates these orders anyway? From where do they really emerge? What happens when the orders conflict with state measures, the product of a systematic containment strategy – `including even trial-and-error and hiccups – undertaken without let or leave of the Centre. So far, the anti-COVID-19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralized thinking, multilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between states.
On its constitutional legality, human right activist, Ebun Adegboruwa insist President Buhari has no powers to restrict the movement of persons without recourse to the National Assembly.
The senior advocate of Nigeria made these statement through his verified Facebook account and that which was obtained by urban express news online.
Adegboruwa said the president has not invoked his powers under the Constitution to declare any state of emergency, which must be approved by the National Assembly.
“We are running a constitutional democracy and it is illegal for the President to take over the affairs of any State of the Federation without the express consent of the people of that State through their elected representatives”.
It is only the Governor of the State through the House of Assembly of the State that can make any declaration concerning the people of that State.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria wondered why President Buhari did not cite any law that he relied upon for his declaration.
His word: “ I will support every measure taken to contain the Coronavirus but such must be in accordance with the law, if we allow this to stay, then tomorrow the president may just impose a total restriction on all states of the federation for whatever reasons”.
“I humbly urge the President to reverse the restrictions and work with the States concerned in accordance with the laws of our land”.
“Also, there must be measures put in place to address the financial consequences of the proposed shutdown, especially for small scale businesses, those who depend on daily earnings and the needy and vulnerable members of the societies to be affected”, he said!