If you don’t know we are in interesting times, you probably may have been in a cave for the last one month.
As always, President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be facing another #DraggingChallenge from majority of Nigerians who have criticised his ‘insensitivity’ to the plight of the citizenry amidst rising cases of the coronavirus.
From incessant calls for him to address the nation to debates on whether he was sneaked out of the country alongside his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari (who is now a corona patient) to get ‘qualitative treatment,’ there must have been very little sleep for ‘Baba Buhari’ in the last one week, assuming he is aware of what is going on. If you know, you know.
Having succumbed partially to the wishes of Nigerians to speak from ‘his hiding place,’ the President finally made a broadcast which in itself has become another subject of debate. It is no longer news that the President in his nationwide broadcast on Sunday, ordered a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory to enable the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to prevent massive spread of the virus in these hotspots, test and treat more cases that have arisen, as well as carry out effective contact tracing.
Chief among the issues raised by constitutional lawyers however, is the fact that the President made pronouncements barring citizens from exercising their fundamental human rights of movement and other associated rights, arguing that the President did not cite any law he relied upon for his declaration and if allowed to stand, he may just impose a total restriction on all States of the Federation for whatever reason in the future. Their position is that regulations as such must be supported by the Quarantine Act or Section 305 of the constitution which must then be gazetted within 10 days after approval of the National Assembly.
In fact, it would seem as some have argued, that the government is ostensibly turning to laws established by colonialists in 1916 to justify the state-wide lockdown. One of the lawyers, Inibehe Effiong has threatened to go to court and it will be enthralling to see how this ends.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.