Soyinka: Buhari’s lockdown order illegal, unconstitutional

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Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described the total lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States by President Muhammadu Buhari over the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease as illegal and unconstitutional. Soyinka, in a statement on Monday said the president lacked the power to unilaterally lock down a state when there was no war or emergency. The Nobel laureate in the statement titled: “Between COVID-19 and Constitutional Encroachment,” called for the intervention of constitutional lawyers and lawmakers, saying they should kindly step into “this and educate us, mere lay minds.” “The worst development I can conceive us is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the coronavirus pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis,” he said. ADVERTISEMENT HOW OVER 5000 NIGERIA MEN HAVE PERMANENTLY OVERCOME TERRIBLE BEDROOM PERFORMANCE DUE TO THIS RECENT DISCOVERY BY MEDICAL CONSULTANTS “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. He said despite the gravity of the virus, “we need to exercise collective vigilance, and not compromise the future by submitting to interventions that are not backed by law and constitution.” Soyinka pointed out that “a President who had been conspicuously AWOL, the Rip van Winkle of Nigerian history” was now alleged to have woken up after a prolonged siesta, and begun to issue orders. He 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. So far, the anti-COVID-19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralised thinking, multilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between states. “The Centre is obviously part of the entire process, and one expects this to be the norm, even without the epidemic’s frontal assault on the Presidency itself. “Indeed, the Centre is expected to drive the overall effort, but in collaboration, with extraordinary budgeting and refurbishing of facilities. “The universal imperative and urgency of this affliction should not become an opportunistic launch pad for a sneak RE-CENTRALISATION, no matter how seemingly insignificant its appearance. “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,” he added. Following the rising number of confirmed cases in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday night ordered a total lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states, as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease. In a special presidential broadcast, he had also listed several government’s interventions put in place to tackle the disease. He also gave lists of organisations and people who were not to be affected by the lockdown order during the nationwide broadcast aired on national television and radio yesterday.

Daily trust

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