Lockdown: Buhari acted in good faith, Says BMO

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), says the actin of locking down Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was a taken in good faith by President Muhammdu Buhari.

The BMO said it is gratuitous at this point in time when the country is faced with a global pandemic, for some Nigerians to posit that President has no power to restrict the movement of persons without recourse to the National Assembly, NASS.

The BMO however in a statement by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, said the President has the powers to place a curfew, impose mandatory restriction of movement, including a lockdown, according to the provisions of the Quarantine Act, to stop the spread of a communicable disease.

“There is no doubt that the spread of Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the freedom of movement of people globally. Nigerians should collectively commend the president for taking necessary actions under QUARANTINE ACT CAP. 384 L.F.N. 1990 and ACT CAP. Q2 L.F.N. 2004 to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“it is unfortunate some lawyers, can become unduly resistant to temporary changes, even where it is obvious that such changes are to serve the interest of the larger society”.

The group recalled that the Supreme Court had ruled that “where national security is threatened or there is the real likelihood of it being threatened, human rights or the individual right of those affected take second place. Human rights or individual rights must be suspended until the national security can be protected or well taken care of. This is not anything new. The corporate existence of Nigeria as a united, harmonious, indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation is certainly greater than any citizen’s liberty or right. Once the security of this nation is in jeopardy, and it survives in pieces rather than in peace, the individual’s liberty or right may not even exist’.

“This isn’t a declaration of a state of emergency. It’s just restriction of movement which doesn’t need National Assembly’s approval, there is no doubt the President acted under the Quarantine Act”.

According to the pro-Buhari group, Article 12 section 3 of the International human rights law, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nigeria is a state party, requires that restrictions on rights for reasons of public health or national emergency be lawful, necessary, and proportionate.

“No individual can say that his rights were jeopardized by virtue of section 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“Section 45 of the Constitution empowers the government to suspend all fundamental human rights, including the right to personal liberty, movement, etc, in favour of public health and safety.

“Countries like Italy, Spain, United States, United Kingdom, China, India, Saudi Arabia, South  Africa, New Zealand, Colombia, Jordan, Argentina, Israel, Belgium, Germany, Malaysia, France, Morocco, Kenya, Kuwait, Ireland, Norway, El Salvador, Denmark, and Russia, to mention a few, have proclaimed either partial or total lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic”, the statement added.