The Legality of the “Lockdown” Order of President Muhammadu Buhari of 29th March 2020, as a Result of the Pandemic COVID-19, Otherwise Called Corona Virus

Written by O'News Blog

I have read and heard many arguments for and against the Order of Mr President declaring “Lockdown” or restrictions in movement in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.
It is an established fact that Corona Virus is a world pandemic which is presently threatening the world over.
It is also an established fact, that no cure or vaccine has been found for the Virus, which now infects people at geometric progression, with devastating health effect, sometimes leading to death of the victims.
It is also a known fact, that most Countries in the world are on a shut down, with orders against movement and assembly of people, except for necessary services and products. This has brought to the fore, the Human Rights arguments of the restrictive orders.
Firstly, I must say without any form of equivocation that the President of Nigeria is eminently qualified, empowered and authorised to issue a restrictive order in whatsoever name it might be called, as long as the Order/Regulations is in line with the Powers given to him under the Quarantine Act, LFN 2004. Section 3 of the Act specifically empowers the President to declare any place as an infected area; which the President has done by declaring a lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun. It can however be argued that the number of Corona Virus cases recorded so far, does not warrant such order.
It is my submission that Corona Virus according to Health Workers, takes 14days to be evident in the body, thus if everybody is allowed to move freely without restrictions, the rate of infection will grow out of proportion.
Furthermore, it is being argued that the Order of the President was made without recourse to the National Assembly. Again this argument lacks substance.
Section 4 of the Quarantine Act gives the President the prerogative to prescribe steps to be taken within Nigeria, to prevent the spread of any infection or disease.
In exercising this power, the President in my humble opinion does not need the approval of any person or persons before he can make such Regulations.
In furtherance of the above arguments, assuming that the President declared a State of Emergency by virtue of the provision of Section 305, subsection 3(e) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.
The President is still covered by the provision of the Law , as long as he complies and follows the procedures laid down in Section 305, subsection 1 and 2.
Nigeria is a signatory to most International Treaties and Charters on Human Rights, including but not limited to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was ratified by Nigeria on the 29th of July 1993.
Article 4 of this Covenant specifically makes provision for derogation of rights in some instances when such derogatotion is in the interests of Public safety, Public Health, etc.
This provision is in consonance and pari-materia with Section 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended.
It is therefore my humble conclusion that , the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria acted within the ambit of the Law and with the utmost interest of Nigerians at heart, by ordering for a restriction of movement (lockdown), in other to curtail the world threatening Pandemic.
It is however my passionate appeal, that the few privileged individuals in the community or society, should as a matter of humanity provide basic needs and foods for the less-privileged within their communities.
God Bless Badagry,
God Bless Lagos State,
God Bless Nigeria.
MEDEMAKU Abayomi Noah, is a Master (LLM) Student in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the European University, Frankfurt Oder, Germany.
He was also a House of Representatives Candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), in the February 2019, General Election in Nigeria.
Email: legalluminary1@gmail.com.

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