Nigerian lawyers have been enjoined to do proper research before ventilating legal opinions on matters of public interest in order to retain the respect and confidence the public has in the law profession.
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) gave this advice in its reaction to a press statement by a senior advocate who queried President Muhammadu Buhari’s authority to direct a lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in the face of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
According to BMO, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN’s) view, and comments by some Nigerians, that the President has no power to restrict the movement of persons without recourse to the National Assembly is gratuitous and immoral at this point in time when the country is faced with a global pandemic.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO posited that the President has the powers to place a curfew, impose mandatory restriction of movement, including a lockdown, according to the provisions of the Quarantine Act, to stop the spread of a communicable disease.
“There is no doubt that the spread of Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the freedom of movement of people globally.
Nigerians should collectively commend the president for taking necessary actions under QUARANTINE ACT CAP. 384 L.F.N. 1990 and ACT CAP. Q2 L.F.N. 2004 to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
“it is unfortunate some lawyers, can become unduly resistant to temporary changes, even where it is obvious that such changes are to serve the interest of the larger society”.
The group recalled that the Supreme Court had ruled that ‘where national security is threatened or there is the real likelihood of it being threatened, human rights or the individual right of those affected take second place. Human rights or individual rights must be suspended until the national security can be protected or well taken care of.
This is not anything new. The corporate existence of Nigeria as a united, harmonious, indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation is certainly greater than any citizen’s liberty or right.
“Once the security of this nation is in jeopardy and it survives in pieces rather than in peace, the individual’s liberty or right may not even exist’.