The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has tackled the federal government over the legality of its lockdown directive in states without due consultation.
Speaking in a communiqué issued at the end of the teleconference meeting and signed by its chairman, Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, the governors resolved to take up the matter with the Presidential Committee on COVID-19.
President Muhammdu Buhari had on Sunday ordered a 14-day lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja as part of measures to combat spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
The move, however, has continued to generate dusts with several legal experts challenging the constitutionality of the president’s order without the approval of the National Assembly.
Prominent figures including Wole Soyinka and senior lawyers such Femi Falana and Ebun Adegboruwa had earlier questioned the rationality and legality of Buhari’s lockdown directive.
Adegboruwa, while reacting to the lockdown order had said: “We are running a constitutional democracy and it is illegal for the President to take over the affairs of any state of the federation without the express consent of the people of that state through their elected representatives. It is only the governor of the state, through the House of Assembly, that can make any declaration concerning the people of that state. Little wonder that the President could not cite any law that he relied upon for his declaration.
“If we allow this to stay, then tomorrow the President may just impose a total restriction on all states of the federation for whatever reason. I humbly urge the President to reverse the restrictions and work with the states concerned, in accordance with the laws of our land.”
Reacting to the criticisms, the Presidency as well as Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, had backed the president’s directive, noting such move has its support in the Quarantine Act 1990 CAP 384 LFN, titled: “An act to provide for and regulate the imposition of quarantine and to make other provisions for preventing the introduction into and spread in Nigeria, and the transmission from Nigeria, of dangerous infectious diseases.”
Meanwhile, the NGF has also canvassed the suspension of all deductions from states and the restructure of debt service payments on Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria debts as part of fiscal measures to safeguard the liquidity of governance at the sub-national level.
The governors disclosed this following a brief from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on the Federal Government’s fiscal measures to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.