Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has no constitutional backing to declare a total lockdown of Lagos State, Ogun State, and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
While addressing the country in a televised broadcast, on Sunday, Buhari had said that starting from 11:00pm, on Monday (today), movements within the three cities are banned for two weeks, in order to give authorities the chance to properly combat the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Lagos and Abuja have the highest of infections for the virus in Nigeria.
The total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country, currently stands at 111, with 1 recorded death
However, reacting to the situation on Monday, Soyinka said that there was no legal premise upon which Buhari made the new order.
His words: “Constitutional Lawyers and our elected Representatives, should kindly step into this and educate us, mere lay minds.
“The worst development I can conceive, is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the corona pandemic are rejected, on account of their questionable genesis.
“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 focused on measures for the saving of 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 the Constitution.
“A President who has been conspicuously AWOL, is now alleged to have woken up after a prolonged siesta, and begun to issue orders.
“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-Covid19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralised thinking, multilateral collaboration, and technical exchanges between States.
“I urge Governors and Legislators to be especially watchful. No epidemic is ever cured with constitutional piracy. It only lays down new political viruses for the future.”