Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says the order for the lockdown of the federal capital territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun by President Muhammadu Buhari is legal.
Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, human rights lawyer, faulted the president’s decision.
Buhari had ordered the lockdown of the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking at a Google Hangout, a programme organised HACK COVID-19 Call Centre, in Abuja on Monday, the vice-president said questioning the legality of the president’s order is unnecessary because it is backed by an act of the national assembly.
He said under the quarantine act, the president has powers to make regulations of any kind that would curb infectious diseases.
“Regarding the legality of the shutdowns announced by the President yesterday, -Sunday-I think it is entirely legal. These steps are proactive, very relevant, important and backed by law,” Laolu Akande, his media aide, quoted Osinbajo as saying in a statement he issued on Tuesday.
“I am not so sure some of the people who have commented on the issue have come across the Quarantine Act. There is a Quarantine Act of 1926, it’s been published in all of the Laws of Nigeria, every edition of the Laws of Nigeria, it is there.
“What the Act does is that it allows the President to designate any local area, any part of the country, as a place that may be infected or under the threat of a communicable disease, and he can then make regulations of any kind.
“For instance, he can say, people should not go out; no public gatherings etc. So, it is a regulation that gives the President powers and these powers come from the National Assembly because, of course, it is an act of the National Assembly.”
The vice-president said the 1926 quarantine act is deemed an act of the national assembly going “by the virtue of the constitutional rules”.
“So, the President has extensive powers under the Quarantine Act of 1926. Also, Governors have extensive powers under the same Quarantine Act,” Osinbajo said.
“It is barely a one page legislation, so it is not particularly difficult to find the relevant provisions and it is not particularly difficult to read, very straightforward. So, the President has all the powers.
“Many of us are not familiar with the Influenza pandemic that killed several millions around the world in 1918. At that time regulations were made here, very similar to what we have today, although that was under the colonial authorities.
“They also banned public gatherings, banned gatherings in places of worship then. So, there is even good historical precedence for some of what we are doing today.”