April 16, 2021

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Reps mull giving quarantine powers to governors

3 min read

A bill to move quarantine powers from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

The constitution alteration bill sponsored by Tajudeen Abbas (APC) from Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State was debated on Thursday and referred to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendment chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, (APC) from Wase Federal Constituency of Plateau State.

Leading the debate on the bill, Mr Abbas explained that it seeks to remove item 54 (Quarantine) from the exclusive legislative list and move it to the concurrent list.

According to the lawmaker, the bill seeks to reconcile the Quarantine Act with the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.

He explained that the 1954 amendment to the Quarantine Act also gives powers to declare quarantine to the governors, he, however, noted that the act is inconsistent with the constitution.

“The President may, by notice, declare any place whether within or without Nigeria to be an infected area, and there upon such place shall be an infected local area within the limit of this act,” section 2 of the act reads.

Section 8 of the Quaratine Act of 1954 also gives the state governor the powers to declare quarantine in their states if the President fails to do so.

“If and to the extent that any declaration made under section 2 and 3 of Act has not been made, and to the extent that regulations under section 4 of this Act have not been made by the president, power to make any such declaration and make such regulations may be exercised in respect of state, by the governor thereof as fully as such power maybe exercised by the president, and subject to the same conditions and limitations”,it reads.

READ ALSO: Senate moves to repeal 96-year-old Quarantine Act

Mr Abbas argued that actions taken by governors under the Act are “null and void” as long as quarantine is under the exclusive legislative list.

Speaking on the bill, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP) Aninri/Awgu/Oji Federal constituency of Enugu State, said the bill was consistent with the call for devolution of power to the sub states.

Following the debate on the bill, the Presiding officer, Femi Gbajabiamila, put the motion to vote and the “ayes” had it.

COVID-19 and Quarantine Act

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, the federal government used the Quarantine Act to impose a lockdown on Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

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However, other states like Kaduna, Ekiti and Rivers States also used the quarantine act to enforce lockdown.

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