Osinbajo’ spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday, said the vice president made this submission in Abuja while responding to questions on Monday at the Google Hangout programme.

The programme was organised by HACK COVID-19 Call Centre – a private sector initiative supporting Nigeria’s battle against the pandemic.

“Regarding the legality of the shutdowns announced by the president on Sunday, I think it is entirely legal; these steps are proactive, very relevant; important and backed by law.

“I am not so sure some of the people who have commented on the issue have come across the Quarantine Act.

“There is a Quarantine Act of 1926; it is been published in all of the Laws of Nigeria, every edition of the Laws of Nigeria, it is there.”

“What the Act does is that it allows the president to designate any local area, any part of the country, as a place that may be infected or under the threat of a communicable disease, and he can then make regulations of any kind.

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“For instance, he can say, people should not go out; no public gatherings among others; so, it is a regulation that gives the president powers and these powers come from the National Assembly because, of course, it is an act of the National Assembly,” the statement quoted Osinbajo as saying.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Director General Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu. [Twitter/@ChikweIhekweazu1]
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Director General Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu. [Twitter/@ChikweIhekweazu1]

According to Osinbajo, by virtue of the constitutional rules, the 1926 Act is deemed to be an Act of the National Assembly.

He said that the president as well as governors had extensive powers under the Quarantine Act of 1926.

Osinbajo urged all interested individuals and groups to personally go through the legislation in order to understand the provisions therein.

It is barely one-page legislation, so it is not particularly difficult to find the relevant provisions and it is not particularly difficult to read, very straightforward; so, the president has all the powers.

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“Many of us are not familiar with the Influenza pandemic that killed several millions around the world in 1918.

“At that time, regulations were made here, very similar to what we have today, although that was under the colonial authorities.

“They also banned public gatherings, banned gatherings in places of worship then.

“So, there is even good historical precedence for some of what we are doing today,” he said.