Soyinka to Buhari: You lack power to lock down states


Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday described the total lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States by President Muhammadu Buhari over the coronavirus pandemic as illegal and unconstitutional.

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Soyinka, in a statement, said the president lacked the power to unilaterally lock down a state when there was no war or emergency. Soyinka, in the statement titled: 

“Between COVID-19 and Constitutional Encroachment,” called for the intervention of constitutional lawyers and lawmakers, saying they should kindly step into “this and educate us, mere lay minds.”

“The worst development I can conceive us is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the corona pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis,” he said. 

“This is a time for Unity of Purpose, not nitpicking dissensions. So, before this becomes a habit, a question: does President Buhari have the powers to close down state borders? We want clear answers. We are not in a war emergency. 

Loading.. Copy video url Play / Pause Mute / Unmute Report a problem Language Mox Player He said despite the gravity of the virus, “we need to exercise collective vigilance, and not compromise the future by submitting to interventions that are not backed by law and constitution. 

“A President who had been conspicuously AWOL, the Rip van Winkle of Nigerian history” was now alleged to have woken up after a prolonged siesta, and begun to issue orders. He asked: “Who actually instigates these orders anyway? 

From where do they really emerge? What happens when the orders conflict with state measures, the product of a systematic containment strategy – `including even trial-and-error and hiccups – undertaken without let or leave of the centre. 

So far, the anti-COVID-19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralised thinking, multilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between states. 

“The centre is obviously part of the entire process, and one expects this to be the norm, even without the epidemic’s frontal assault on the Presidency itself.

 Indeed, the Centre is expected to drive the overall effort, but in collaboration, with extraordinary budgeting and refurbishing of facilities.”

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