- Wole Soyinka has questioned President Buhari's power to impose curfew in Lagos and Ogun states
- Buhari had on Sunday, March 29, imposed 14 days curfew on the two states including FCT over COVID-19
- Soyinka, however, warned the president against usurping the power of states
Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, has warned governors and members of the National Assembly to watch against any federal government attempt to usurp their powers.
The Nation reports that Soyinka questioned President Muhammadu’s power to impose a 14-day curfew on Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Legit.ng gathered that he invited states and lawmakers on Monday, March 30, to determine whether the president acted in accordance with the law.
The playwright, who Sunday, March 29, completed his 14-day self-isolation after returning from the United States, stated this in a statement: ‘Between COVID and constitutional encroachment.
President had on the night of Sunday, March 29, said that the shutdown, which would be for an initial two weeks, “is the containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases."
Soyinka said: “Constitutional lawyers and our elected representatives should kindly step into this and educate us, mere lay minds. The worst development I can conceive is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the coronavirus pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis. This is a time for unity of purpose, not nitpicking dissensions.
“…Does President Buhari have the powers to close down state borders? We want clear answers. We are not in a war emergency. Appropriately focussed on measures for the saving lives and committed to making sacrifices for the preservation of our communities, we should nonetheless remain alert to any encroachment on constitutionally demarcated powers.”
He urged Nigerians to exercise “collective vigilance”, adding that failure to do so, could “compromise the future by submitting to interventions that are not backed by law and constitution.”
According to Soyinka, the president who has been “conspicuously AWOL, the Rip van Winkle of Nigerian history, is now alleged to have woken up after a prolonged siesta and begun to issue orders.
“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,” he asked.
He noted that the federal government has been part of the fight against the virus, “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.”
“I urge governors and legislators to be especially watchful. No epidemic is ever cured with constitutional piracy. It only lays down new political viruses for the future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the chairman, Senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions, Senator Uba Sani, reacted to the coronavirus stimulus packages being rolled out by Nigerian banks to assist Lagos state in containing the pandemic disease.
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