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.
While addressing the country in a televised broadcast on Sunday, Buhari had said that starting from 11:00pm on Monday (today), movement within the three cities was banned in order to give authorities the chance to properly combat the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
Lagos and Abuja have the highest of infections for the virus in Nigeria.
The total confirmed cases in the Coronavirus in the country currently stands at 111 with one recorded death
But reacting to the situation on Monday, Soyinka said that there was no legal premise upon, which Buhari was making the new order.
He said, “Constitutional lawyers and our 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 Corona 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 focussed 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.”
Saharareporters, New York