President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement of a lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States is illegal, a senior lawyer has said.
Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa (SAN) said in a statement that the state governors, and not the president, have legal right to restrict movement in their states.
Recall that Buhari announced the lockdown in the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday. The measure became necessary to curb the spread of coronavirus, the president said.
He added that the 14-day lockdown would take effect from 11 pm on Monday, March 30.
Adegboruwa noted, “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 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 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.”