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Soyinka Queries Buhari’s Constitutional Powers To Order Lock Down On FCT, Lagos, And Ogun

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Wole Soyinka
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Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has questioned if President Muhammadu Buhari has the legal backing of the constitution to declare a total lock down of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states over coronavirus.

MERIDIAN SPY had reported on Sunday the president issued an order directing the restriction of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11 pm tonight Monday, 30th March.

But reacting to the situation on Monday, Soyinka while admitting the measure was focused on saving lives, and committed to making sacrifices for the preservation of our communities, said Nigerians “should nonetheless remain alert to any encroachment on constitutionally demarcated powers.”

He warned that there was a “need to exercise collective vigilance, and not compromise the future by submitting to interventions that are not backed by law and constitution.”

Soyinka stated: “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 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.”

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