COVID-19: Falana Condemns Deployment Of Soldiers To Enforce Lockdown

A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has condemned the deployment of Nigerian soldiers to enforce the lockdown over coronavirus.

This news medium reports that the Defence Headquarters on Monday said it will begin to enforce the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states.

In a statement on Tuesday, Falana said the deployment of soldiers to enforce the lockdown should be reconsidered immediately.

He added that the military should focus more on the war against insurgency in the North-east while the Police and other security agencies should be allowed to enforce the COVID-19 regulations.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however, agreed that the president has the power to adopt any measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Falana advised the military to focus more on the war against insurgency in the north-east while the police and allied security agencies should be allowed to enforce the COVID-19 regulations and guidelines.

“Following the national broadcast of President Buhari on the COVID-19 pandemic, some lawyers have questioned the constitutional validity of the restriction of locomotion of people in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states. No doubt, the President is empowered to adopt any measures deemed fit to combat the dangerous disease but such measures have to be spelled out in a Regulation made pursuant to section 305 of the Constitution or under the Quarantine Act. Otherwise, the presidential order on the restriction of movement in the affected areas cannot be enforced by the police,” he said.

“However, while the nation’s armed forces should be commended for making their medical facilities available to members of the public in the fight against the highly dangerous virus the plan to dispatch armed soldiers to the streets to enforce the COVID-19 guidelines should be shelved because it is illegal.

“For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to draw the attention of the military authorities to the case of Yussuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt ) where Salami JCA (as he then was) held that “It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarized. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999. Conscious steps should be taken to civilianise the polity and thereby ensure the survival of and sustenance of democracy.”

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