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The legality of quarantine and lockdown in the management of public health emergency in Nigeria


Nuleera Ambrose Duson
D. Sunny James

Abstract

In December 2019, a global Pandemic referred to as COVID-19 took the world by storm, paralyzing virtually all human activities. It originated from the city of Wuhan in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global pandemic on the 11th day of March 2020. The casualty from the pandemic was enormous. A lot of persons lost their lives as a result of contracting the virus. In the midst of that unprecedented public health crisis, countries across the globe including Nigeria adopted containment measures aimed at halting the spread of the disease. These include lockdown, isolation and quarantine. These measures infringed on human rights of citizens and were heavily criticized. On Sunday the 29th of March, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari in a televised broadcast imposed a lockdown on two states in Nigeria for 14days. This was followed by some state Governors who also imposed lockdown on their respective states. Some had argued that the President cannot unilaterally impose lockdown on states in Nigeria without first of all declaring a state of emergency in accordance with Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This article seeks to examine the legal framework regulating the imposition of quarantine and lockdown in the management of Public health emergency in Nigeria. In particular, the emphasis of the paper is to investigate whether the imposition of quarantine and/or lockdown by the President in the management of Public health emergency like the COVID-19 Pandemic in the country is legal. Secondly, whether a lockdown imposed by the President but not in accordance with Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is illegal. The paper found that there are laws permitting the President to impose lockdown and quarantine in the management of Public health emergency in Nigeria. The paper argues that such lockdown or quarantine imposed by the President as a means of containment of any infectious disease in Nigeria is legal and valid even without the declaration of a state of emergency in accordance with Section 305 of the Constitution. The paper argues further that Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution is just one of the provisions permitting the President to impose such a lockdown or quarantine. The paper contends that by a community reading of Sections 14, 20 and 45 of the 1999 Constitution, Sections 2, 3, 4 and 8 of the quarantine Act 1926, Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and peoples Right (ACHPR) Article 4 and 12 of the International covenant on civil and political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 12 (1) and (2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the President can impose lockdown and quarantine in the management of Public health emergency in Nigeria without recourse to Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution. The researchers made use of the doctrinal approach in carrying out the research. The paper is divided into five sections.. The paper concludes with some recommendations in.

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