Two of Nigeria’s top lawyers: Ebun-olu Adegboruwa (SAN) and Kayode Ajulo, have disagreed on the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari to lock down states over the continuous spread of the Coronavirus Disease in the country.
The lawyers disagreed in statements they issued on Sunday after President Buhari in a nationwide broadcast ordered the lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Lagos and Ogun States in order to stem the further spread of COVID-19.
While Adegboruwa said Buhari lacked the power to restrict movement in the three areas, Adult said it was within the purview of the President to do.
In his statement, titled: “PROPOSED RESTRICTION OF MOVEMENT IN ABUJA, LAGOS AND OGUN BY PRESIDENTIAL FIAT IS ILLEGAL,” Adegboruwa said: “The President has no powers to restrict the movement of persons without recourse to the National Assembly.
“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. Little wonder that the President could not cite any law that he relied upon for his declaration.
“I support every measure taken to contain the Coronavirus pandemic but such must be in accordance with law. If we allow this to stay, then tomorrow the President may just impose total restriction on all States of the Federation for whatever reason.
“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.”
On the contrary, Ajulo, who is based in Abuja, in his opinion, titled: “THE PRESIDENT IS EMPOWERED TO RESTRICT MOVEMENT ON HEALTH GROUND,” argued: “The Federal Quarantine Act, CAP 384 LFN, 1990 CAP Q2 LFN 2004 which remains in force today, is the primary law governing matters concerning public health crises in Nigeria.
“It is based on the exclusive legislative jurisdiction accorded to the federal government under the Constitution on issues of “quarantine” and any matter incidental thereof.
“The act empowers the President to place a curfew, impose restriction of movement, including a lockdown according to the provisions of the Quarantine Act.”