By Soni Daniel
abuja—Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has faulted claims by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Ebunolu Adegboruwa, that President Muhammadu Buhari does not have the powers to shut down two states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the world.
President Buhari had in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday ordered the lockdown of two states of Lagos, Ogun and the FCT in order to reduce the spread of the virus, an action condemned by Adegboruwa, as illegal, since in his argument the President does not have the authority to do so without the approval of the National Assembly.
But Malami disagreed with Adegboruwa yesterday, saying the legal practitioner was wrong by misconstruing the law regarding the community reading of Section 5, 14, 20 and 45 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 2, 6 and 8 of the Quarantine Act and Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 11 on Human and Peoples Right which make the declaration by the President, valid, legal and enforceable.
In a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists, the AGF said it was wrong for the senior lawyer to accuse the President of committing any infraction of the law without stating the law breached by the President.
He said contrary to Adegboruwa’s argument, Buhari did not declare any state of emergency in his broadcast and as such did not commit any offence as alleged by the lawyer.
Malami said: “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. 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, claiming that such powers can only be exercised by the governors and the respective State Assemblies. It is clear from the President’s broadcast that what he 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.”