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.
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.
noble Laureate in a statement on Monday wondered if the president has power to
order such lockdown
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
“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
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
“I humbly urge
the President to reverse the restrictions and work with the States concerned in
accordance with the laws of our land”.
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!