Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The federal and state governments had put measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Such measures include travel ban, suspension of events, closure of schools and ban on large gatherings.
However, some of the directives, particularly involving the ban on large gatherings, have been ignored by some political and religious leaders.
In a statement on Monday, Falana said Buhari needs to declare a state of emergency to further establish the urgency and seriousness of the directives.
He said the declaration will ensure that disobedience by political and religious leaders will become a punishable offence.
“In order to stem the dangerous trend the Federal Government should put necessary legal measures and mechanisms in place without any further delay,” the statement read.
“In particular, the attention of the Nigerian people ought to be drawn to section 45 of the Constitution which provides that the fundamental rights of citizens to personal liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association etc may be infringed upon or restricted in the interest of public health and public safety.
“Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, issue a proclamation of a state of emergency in the entire Federation pursuant to section 305 (1) of the Constitution.
“Once the proclamation is issued by the President and published it is required to be approved by a resolution supported by two-thirds majority of each house of the national assembly.
“Once the measures are set out
in the said proclamation they will have the force of law capable of being enforced by the police and other security agencies. If President Buhari does not declare a state of emergency state governors are advised to issue Executive Orders to address the health challenge.”
The lawyer also asked for the decongestion of detention facilities in the country including correctional centres and police stations.
He said convicts who are suffering from diabetes, tuberculosis, asthma and terminal diseases should be released from custody forthwith.
Nigeria currently has 36 cases of the virus, spread across least five states and the federal capital territory (FCT).