THE FUNKE AKINDELE SAGA VIS-A-VIS EMERGENCY LAWS by Adedeji Obadofin
Perhaps, the Corona Virus disease which is currently ravaging several health sectors of the entire universe is now visible to the blind and audible to the deaf.
The deadly Virus which was discovered last year in Wuhan, China has wrecked so much havoc across the globe such that people now live in fear even as loses and deaths are counted daily.
It should be well appreciated by readers of this article that Emergency Laws include Legislations referring to a state of emergency in all its forms and suspension of some parts of the Constitution in a bit to promote state security. Categories of Emergency Laws could include City Lockdowns, Curfews, War Legislations (as seen in World War I and World War II legislations). Generally speaking, it is apposite to know that upon the passage of Emergency bills into Laws, some existing laws and a few rights of individuals are suspended.
Flowing from the outbreak of the Corona Virus disease (Covid-19), the United Kingdom passed a “329-Page emergency bill” (through the House of Commons) into Law. The Law gave the UK Government wide ranging powers unlike any other recent legislation which were meant to remain in force only for as long as required to respond to the outbreak of the Corona Virus disease.
Flowing from the numerous infected patients and the rising panic amongst individuals in the society which cannot be unconnected to the recorded number of deaths as a result of the Pandemic, the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 30th day of March 2020 issued out regulations which were meant to curtail the spread of the unseen human enemy. It would be recalled that the Lagos State Government since the 18th day of March had ordered an immediate slowdown of normal commercial activities, prohibition of large gatherings, promotion of Social distancing measures and partial/full closure of public offices in the ever bustling mega-city which witnesses over eight million persons commuting daily on Lagos roads. Thereafter, the Lagos State Government issued the Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 which was to operate hand in hand with the Public Health Law, Cap 116, Vol.9 of the Laws of Lagos State, 2015. The Regulation included temporary closure of public centres, event places, educational or vocational institutions as well as the restriction of events, and gatherings except with a written permission to the Governor.
It would also be recalled that last weekend, Funke Akindele, who is one of Nigeria’s best known actresses, had organized a house party to celebrate her husband’s birthday amidst the regulations against events and strict warnings to practice social distancing measures as provided for by the Lagos Emergency Regulation. The actress and her husband were found guilty by an Ikeja Magistrate court in Lagos State and were thereafter sentenced to 14 days Community service in addition to the payment of 100 thousand naira fine to be paid each. The duo were found guilty to have contravened Regulation 8(1)(a)&(b) and 17(1)(i) of the Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 and S. 58 of the Public Health Law Cap 116, Vol. 9, Laws of Lagos State 2015.
Worthy of note is the fact that the Emergency Regulations provide a comprehensive formidable framework and an effective emergency tool for the Lagos State Government working in tandem with the NCDC to proactively prevent, contain and manage the spread of the pandemic.
Inasmuch as members of the society cannot but suffer a few infractions on their rights (for instance, the order against free movement and prohibition of peaceful assembly and association as contained in S.40 and S.41 of the CFRN), it is subtly advised that members of the society are to comply with these emergency Laws which are only temporary and meant to salvage surrounding circumstances which might pose great dangers and insecurity in the event of non-compliance. In essence, the several lockdowns, curfews and restrictions on movement are not “hate dishes” served on the tables of the masses by the Government but conscious means of the maintenance of public peace and security in times like this.
Adedeji Obadofin is a Premium Graduate of Law from Kogi State University who is dogged about contributing his quota to the growth and overall development of the legal profession through his articles