Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Director General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, has said that those criticising the current lockdown of Abuja, Lagos State and Ogun State by the federal government, including Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Mr. Ebùn Adegborunwa (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) should know that containing the spread of the virus is not about rigid applications of knowledge and laws.
The director-general in a statement issued yesterday said that the current debate around legality are needless, adding that what the COVID-19 emergency timeline dictates is about innovative application of knowledge and laws.
According to him, “to miss the reality of this, may mean being reckless”.
“It would appear many of us, including very experienced elder statesmen such as our Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, are still operating in the old activist timelines of being in opposition to government. COVID-19 doesn’t allow us the luxury of government vs citizens dichotomy.
Lukman said that all the energy being expended to question the legality of decisions of government to lock down these three cities with the highest potential to spread the virus to every part of the country might only serve to distract the attention of government from the critical issue of ensuring effective response to contain the spread of the virus.
He added that rather than asking the question whether locking down Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states is sufficient to contain the spread of the virus, they are seeking to undermine the government.
He said that since the declaration of lockdown by President Muhammadu Buhari, which commenced, Adegboruwa’s position was endorsed by many activist lawyers, including Falana who argued that “Presidential Order is not enforceable without legal backing.”
Lukman stated: “What is the objective of this debate? Is it to strengthen the capacity of our democracy to respond to emergency situations, especially when human life is at great risk on accounts of the outbreak of diseases? Or is it to simply show some legal muscles based on which the actions of the government are delegitimised? How else could government isolate, care and treat victims of COVID-19 in these cities given the scientific evidence that you could be carrier without showing any sign of symptoms? In other word, everybody could be a carrier.
“Whether lockdown is desirable and the best in the circumstance is immaterial, what appears to be the substance of the legal arguments being championed by Messrs. Adegboruwa, Falana, et al. All that is the issue around the debate of what should be the legal requirement for the lockdown of these cities with higher vulnerability to Covid-19 virus is not whether the lockdown is right.”
Lukman noted that Adegboruwa, Falana and virtually all the lawyers expressing reservations about the legality or otherwise of the lockdown as announced by the President are in agreement that there should be lockdown, but their grouse was simply that the President should seek for the approval of the National Assembly as provided under the Constitution.