Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Fault Lockdown of FCT, Lagos, Ogun

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Muhammadu Buhari

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has faulted the federal government’s decision to lockdown FCT, Lagos and Ogun states within 24 hours without due consultations with the affected state governments.

The forum, in a statement issued yesterday and entitled “Presidential COVID-19 Regulations and Its Subversions” and jointly signed by the quartet of Mr. Yinka Odumakin (South-west); Gen. CRU Iherike (South-east); Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-south) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), said it was regrettable that after a long unpardonable silence on the pandemic, the presidency still could not get it right due largely to its disregard for rules and its operation of a disorganised system and central planning.

“It is inexplicable that anyone who understands how society functions would shut down a city like Lagos under 24-hour without considering the impact on the citizens and when it is not that there is a serious programme of dealing with the health crisis on the ground.

“The lockdown of Lagos, FCT, and Ogun in such manner is therefore whimsical and too blatant. It is a flagrant violation of federal spirit to shut down states without consultation with governors under no known law than the jejune 1926 Colonial Quarantine Act the Attorney General is ignorantly flaunting about,” the forum alleged.

The forum expressed happiness that the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has modified the president’s military fiat in a manner the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, made it clear to President Donald Trump that he had no power to shut down his city.

“The action of Ogun State governor is a clear testimony to the fact that the president did not consult with the governors of the affected states. We do understand that there are people who may feel that this is an emergency situation and we should allow any measure to deal with it.

But for us, those who neglected us all these weeks cannot be said to now develop any sense of emergency. And to allow them to get away with their characteristic abuse of process in this period is to arm them for more impunity in normal times.

“The forum while supporting measures aimed at dealing with the situation the nation has found itself, according to the law and in federal spirit also advised the federating states to come up with laws to back their actions that require such and not to copy the arbitrariness of the federal government,” the forum said.

The forum warned against the threat by the military to enforce the lockdown in the two states and Abuja, saying the military’s main responsibility, for now, is to win the war against the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east.

“We have seen some elements of armed forces boasting they will enforce the president ‘s directives. We hasten to remind the military that they have a war Boko Haram is currently winning to fight in the North-east, which they should concentrate on, while quarantine is the business of the police and civil defence,” it added.