Stay-At-Home Order: Buhari Should Retrace His Unconstitutional Steps, Or Face My Impending Legal Action; By Inibehe Effiong

After a deep reflection on President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to lockdown all movements in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja, by Presidential fiat for 14 days, I have resolved to challenge this unconstitutional action in court.

No responsible, democratic, and civilised country, will throw its Constitution and laws into the dustbin, in an effort to tackle a pandemic like Covid-19, the way President Buhari has done.
Freedom of movement is a fundamental right guaranteed by Section 41 of the Constitution.

While it is conceded that this right is not absolute, Section 45 of the Constitution is clear to the effect that freedom of movement can only be taken away in the manner allowed by a law, that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. Buhari has not relied on any law.

If Buhari is convinced that extraordinary measures are needed to contain the coronavirus, the proper action would have been for him to issue an instrument published in the official gazette of the government, and make a proclamation of a state of emergency in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja.

By Section 305 (6) (b) of the Constitution, such proclamation shall cease to have effect, if it is not approved by a resolution of the National Assembly within 2 days, where the National Assembly is in session, or within 10 days, where the National Assembly is not in session.

By Section 305 (2) of the Constitution, the details of such proclamation can include extraordinary measures like lockdown. Those who say that the rule of law is useless because of this pandemic, are mistaken. There is no exception to the rule of law in a constitutional democracy.

Buhari could have asked the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to convene the National Assembly, to approve a state of emergency. He could have simply issued regulations pursuant to the Quarantine Act. But he opted for his usual dictatorial ways of doing things.

As a resident of Lagos State, I am directly affected by the illegal action of the President. I will seek redress in court, either before or after the expiration of this unconstitutional lockdown, since there is no limitation of time with respect to fundamental right actions.

President Buhari can either retrace his unconstitutional steps immediately, and follow the due process of law, or face my impending legal action. The choice is his.

All serious countries declared emergency, passed or invoked laws to tackle Covid-19. Is Nigeria a banana republic?

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