The Senate on Sunday backed President Muhammadu Buhari’s lockdown of Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun states over the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate spokesman Godiya Akwashiki believes the President must have obtained legal advice before acting.
He was reacting to a statement by activist-lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) that the President acted without legal backing.
Akwashiki said: “Lagos has been locked down partially since a few days ago. It is not something to worry about. They should allow leaders to make decisions, especially in this type of crisis situation that we are faced with. I want to believe that the President must have consulted well.
“I want to assure you that if it is something that is constitutionally mandatory for the Senate to approve, we said it the other day when we took a break that the leadership had directed all Senators to be on standby in case of any emergency.
“If it needs the attention of the Senate, I want to assure you that for the betterment and safety of our own people, it will be done because that is the primary reason for which we are there.
“We are all working hard to see that we get out of this crisis. So there is no cause for alarm.”
Adegboruwa said the President had no powers to restrict the movement of persons without recourse to the National Assembly.
According to him, the Constitution requires that the President should first declare a state of emergency, which must be approved by the National Assembly, before shutting down states.
“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 of the State 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,” he said.
Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) had also said the Federal Government could not enforce regulations to combat coronavirus without legal backing.
For instance, religious leaders who hold programmes despite lockdowns are not violating any specific law or regulation.
“While no political or religious leader should be allowed to risk the lives of the Nigerian people by disregarding measures that have been announced by the authorities, the Federal Government has itself to blame for failing to proclaim a state of emergency to deal with the ravaging COVID-19.
“It is common knowledge that leaders of many countries have since invoked the provisions of relevant statutes to declare a state of emergency before imposing restriction on the locomotion of people and lockdown of towns.”
“Our appeal to President Mohammadu Buhari to proclaim a state of emergency throughout the federation pursuant to Section 305 of the Constitution of Nigeria has been ignored without any explanation.
“This is due to the fact that the Federal Government has failed to realise that we are no longer under the jackboots when Nigerians were sanctioned for flouting regulations which were based on the whims and caprices of military dictators,” Falana said