Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari had no constitutional backing to declare a total lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and Abuja and urged state governors not to allow the usurpation of their powers.
Soyinka, who completed his 14-day self-isolation, yesterday, after returning from the United States, in a statement said state House of Assemblies should determine whether the president acted in accordance with the law on Sunday when he declared a curfew in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja from 11:00pm on Monday for 14 days. in order to give authorities the chance to contain the spread of coronavirus.
“Constitutional lawyers and 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 coronavirus pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis.
“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.
“A President who has been conspicuously AWOL is now alleged to have woken up after a prolonged siesta, and begun to issue orders. 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-COVID19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralised thinking, multilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between states. 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 said.
Afenifere also criticised the directive, saying that although a lockdown is necessary at this point, it should not have been done as if ‘we were shutting down a barrack under 24 hours.’
A statement signed by the organisation’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said people should have been given a few days notice to get themselves prepared for a shutdown.
He aslo said it is unfortunate that serious stimulus package for its citizens beyond moratorium for NPower earners have not been provided.