AMIDST THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC THE LOCKDOWN EXTENSIONA LEGAL POINT OF VIEW
A. L. YAQOOB
It is disheartening that our country (NIGERIA) has been crippled down in all ramifications with the COVID -19 pandemic causing carnages, scourges in every corner of the Nation.
The president exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right on the 29th day of March, 2020 announced a 14 – day Lockdown In Lagos State, Ogun state and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) to curtail the spread and to curb the virus in the nation. It is no more breaking that the virus is militating against the social order of the country thereby causing natural disasters, pandemics, epidemics, Insurgencies and scourges of the like.
Sachrosantly, the primary purpose of the government is mainly the Welfare of its people and this is constitutionally provided for under section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as altered which says; “The provisions of this Constitution in Part I of Chapter VIII hereof shall in relation to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have effect in the manner set out thereunder.”
In the same vein is the effect of section 20 of the same law which says;
“The State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria”
see generally chapter II of CFRN 1999 as altered, which are to the effect that the primary purpose of the government shall be the welfare of its people.
A judicial back up is what is brilliantly emphasized by the court in the Chinese exclusion case CHAE CHANGE PING V UNITED STATES where it was posited that the primary function of the government is the preservation of the government. This authority though persuasive is of worthy notice going by the postion of the court.
The Exercise of the state of emergency-like in the country is indeed the government conundrum but proactive measures are needed to be taken to fight against the virus among which is the issue of quarantine order which immersively affect the survival of the generality of the masses in the country. The initial Lockdown is a matter of Emergency-like which was declared by the president on the 29th Day of March, 2020 lapsed on the 13th Day of March, 2020. But it is heartbreaking that the virus is yet defeated leading to the extension of the Lockdown order in the concerned states.
I think that the president’s actions are still in the confine of law because all actions starting from the genesis of this pandemic are justifiable though with some legal defects though on the basis of emergency. More importantly, is the Loop holes in the actions of the government to curb the pandemic virus which of the sum note is on the basis of failure is the government to provide measures to soothe the masses “Stay at home” Order. Among the Entertaining aspect of the suggestive measures is the mindset of the Minister of state for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) suggesting that the people’s subscription for the dish should be extended without payment for 1 month also the palliative measure taken by the DISCO ensuring the stability of electricity for some months without payment, donations made by the affluent members of the society, all of which have not been activated.
Speaking the people’s mind “it has been a boring one”. Out of the failure is that the government have failed to provide proactive measures to expedite the curb of the virus and the politicization of the virus in which it was an headline that the office of the accountant general got burnt. Equally worrisome is the increase in crime rate and all other chaotic acts in that society which is to the effect of the failure of the government to provide active measures to curb the virus there by causing more harm to the people.
The Extension of the Lockdown is necessary based on the status of the country coupled with the advices of medical personnel in juxtaposition with the mandatory nature of the exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed rights by the president which the president needs to activate it’s a matter of urgency. As suggestive measures, the government should provide a well designed database for any kind of distribution and other means to be focused on artisans and traders who make daily earnings in their dexterities so as to make effective the Lockdown order which is currently ongoing in the nation.
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