Human rights activist Femi Falana said it was illegal to use soldiers to enforce the lockdown order issued by President Buhari.
Falana urged the federal government to reconsider the use of troops to execute the order, because the police are protecting ‘our nascent democracy’ rather than the military.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who stated that such acts might make Nigeria’s democracy wittingly or unwittingly militarized, urged the military to focus on the ongoing war against insurgents in the North-East.
The statement reads;
“Following the national broadcast of President Buhari on the COVID-19 pandemic, some lawyers have questioned the constitutional validity of the restriction of locomotion of people in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states. No doubt, the President is empowered to adopt any measures deemed fit to combat the dangerous disease but such measures have to be spelt out in a Regulation made pursuant to section 305 of the Constitution or under the Quarantine Act. Otherwise the presidential order on restriction of movement in the affected areas cannot be enforced by the police.
“However, while the nation’s armed forces should be commended for making their medical facilities available to members of the public in the fight against the highly dangerous virus the plan to dispatch armed soldiers to the streets to enforce the COVID-19 guidelines should be shelved because it is illegal.
“For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to draw the attention of the military authorities to the case of Yussuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt ) where Salami JCA (as he then was) held that “It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarized. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999. Conscious steps should be taken to civilianise the polity and thereby ensure the survival of and sustenance of democracy.”