Human rights Activist, Barrister Yaqub Eleto
Covid-19: President Buhari’s Lockdown Declaration Illegal, Hasty, Unfounded – Activist
A lawyer and human rights activist, Yaqub Eleto, has described the Sunday’ evening’s President Muhammad Buhari declaring total lockdown of some parts of the country due to corona virus pandemic, as hasty, unfounded and illegal.
It will be recalled that President Buhari, had on Sunday evening declared that there will be restriction of movements in Lagos and Ogun States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, will from 11 p.m. on Monday, March 30, till April 13, 2020.
The action, President Buhari said is to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.
However, in a Swift reaction to President Buhari’s declarations, Barrister Eleto said, the president’s decision to lockdown Lagos State, is against the spirit and letters and the intendment of the drafters of Section 5 and Section 305 (3) (e) of the 1999 Constitution. Adding that before such Executive Order could be made, the President ought to recourse to the National Assembly, who will pass it by a two third majority.
Eleto also condemned the President for using the word ‘lockdown’, which he said was borrowed from World Health Organization (WHO), China and United State of America (USA).
His reaction: “the declaration of a lockdown in Lagos State by President Muhammad Buhari on the 29th day of March, 2020 is unconstitutional, illegal, hasty, unfounded and draconian. I condemn it in all its entirety as it is against the spirit and letters and the intendment of the drafters of the constitution in Section 5 and Section 305 (3) (e) that before such proclamation or executive orders should be made, there should be recourse to the National Assembly who will pass such proclamation by a 2/3rd majority.
“In this instance such consent was not sought and obtained by the president before the order was made.
“It should also be noted that in another look, the word ‘Lockdown’, is novel to our constitution but borrowed from the World Health Organization (WHO), China and the United States. The word lockdown is used as a medico-legal term for quarantining a state where there is epidemic or to restrict cross border movements during outbreaks of epidemics.
“Lockdown is often imposed when the government of the day had tried all efforts at ensuring citizens comply with mild government regulations and when citizens fails to comply and when the spread is at an outraged figure government can go ahead to lockdown the city for case finding, contact tracing and suspension of public gathering at will”.
Eleto however commended APC led-government for its quick response in curtailing the outbreak, but urged the government to have rethink in locking down the States mentioned.
“While we commend the effort of Government in responding to the outbreak and trying to control the situation. We urge government to rethink its lockdown of Lagos State, Ogun State and FCT Abuja and resort to compliance of social distancing, suspension of public gatherings and Government go on aggressive quarantine of some parts of the affected states.
“Lagos State has a population of 26.5 million inhabitants with 9 million unemployed and 33% living below poverty line. It would be disastrous for government to lockdown such states within 24 hours without strong and concrete palliatives measures put in place to assuage the possible outcry that might break out with high prevalence of crime and criminality, including mass murder, insurgency, militancy, armed robbery, kidnappings, and drug abuse”
The human rights activist urged Lagos State government to continue with the partial lockdown and to ensure its strict compliance. While also called for even distribution of palliative measure for the downtrodden in the State
“I therefore urge the Lagos State government to continue on their partial lockdown with stricter enforcements in compliance with the recently passed law of the Lagos State House of Assembly. We also urge the Lagos State to ensure even distribution of the palliatives to places in Lagos state where poor people are dominated not only elite areas of Ikoyi, Obalende, Victoria Island, Lekki and others”.