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Malami: Buhari has powers to restrict movement under quarantine law



Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, human rights lawyer, goofed when he described as illegal the order of President Muhammadu Buhari restricting movements.

The human rights lawyer said Buhari could only make such proclamations in consultation with the national assembly.

The president had ordered the lockdown of the federal capital territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

In a statement on Monday, Malami said quarantine act enables the president to take measures since COVID-19 has been declared an infectious disease.

“Section 3 of the act enables the president to declare any part of Nigeria as an infected area,” he said.

“Section 4 of the act further empowers the president to make regulations to prevent the introduction, spread and transmission of any dangerous infectious disease.”

The AGF argued that the president could even declare a state of emergency for 10 days before consulting with the federal lawmaker.

Malami said the president gave the order at a time the national assembly was “shut down”.

“It is important to inform the discerning members of the public that the President did not make a declaration of a state of emergency under Section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which would have required the concurrence of both houses of the national assembly,” Malami said.

“Even at that Section 305(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) permits a proclamation of a State of Emergency to run for a period of 10 days without the approval of the National Assembly when the parliament is not in session as in the present situation wherein the National Assembly has shut down.

“The learned silk also goofed when he questioned the president’s powers to restrict movement and claiming that such powers can only be exercised by the state governors and the respective state assemblies.

“It is clear from the president’s broadcast that what His Excellency sought to address is a public emergency occasioned by a dangerous and infectious coronavirus disease.

“The restriction of movement came on the heels of advice received by the President from the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, the two focal agencies in the fight against COVID-19.”

Nigeria had recorded 131 coronavirus cases — mostly in Lagos and Abuja — as at Monday night.