Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, on Monday faulted the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari’s (retd.) lockdown order in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.
But the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, in a statement in Abuja, said Buhari did not commit any illegality.
Buhari, had in a broadcast on Sunday ordered complete lockdown of the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states as part of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, which rose to 111 on Sunday.
But Soyinka, in a statement on Monday titled, ‘Between COVID-19 and constitutional encroachment’ signed from his Autonomous Residence of Ijegba, Ogun State, where he’s on ‘self-quarantine’, said the country was not in a war emergency.
He said, “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. This is a time for unity of purpose, not nitpicking dissensions.
“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 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 constitution.”
Buhari just woke up from siesta, says Soyinka
The Nobel laureate wondered how a President, who had clearly been on AWOL (absent from where one should be), suddenly woke up after a long siesta to start issuing orders.
The elder statesman asked, “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.”
According to the essayist, so far, the anti-COVID-19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralised thinking, multilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between states.
But Malami berated the President’s critics, particularly a human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
Adegboruwa had said the President had no right to make such a proclamation without recourse to the National Assembly.