By Balogun Damilola
Amid the Covid19 pandemic, human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, says the federal and state governments cannot stop people from gathering unless a proper legal framework is put in place.
Effiong said in a statement on Sunday that in developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, the government had to first declare a state of emergency or invoke a provision of the law before asking people to stay indoors.
He said Nigeria must act like a democratic nation rather than a dictatorship.
“Since there is no special law to my knowledge, apart from laws establishing national and states emergency management agencies, to address public health crisis, it is necessary for the President to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria to address the outbreak of coronavirus.”
The activist said by virtue of Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution, the rights to peaceful assembly and free movement can be interfered with in the interest of public health and public safety.
“In Nigeria, we are resorting to our usual militaristic way of doing things by relying on arbitrary executive fiat to tackle COVID19. Nations do not become great just by the good intentions of politicians. Nations become great principally by adhering to the rule of law.”
Effiong noted that the Quarantine Act provides for how the government can tackle the spread of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
He, however, noted that Section 4 of the said Quarantine Act expressly requires the President to make regulations (subsidiary legislation) to give effect to the provisions of the Act.