INSIGHT: Nigeria’s Quarantine Act and the President’s Powers.
In exercise of the powers conferred on him by Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act (CAP Q2 LFN 2004), and all other powers enabling him in that behalf, President @MBuhari, Monday, signed the Covid-19 Regulations, 2020, which declared Covid-19 a dangerous infectious disease.
The Regulations, effective March 30, 2020, also gave legal backing to the various measures outlined in the President’s National Broadcast on March 29, 2020, such as Restriction/Cessation of Movement in Lagos, FCT and Ogun State and others toward containing the spread of the pandemic in the country.
But what is the contents of the Nigerian Quarantine Act and Does the President President have the Powers to Invoke it?
The Provisions of the Quarantine Act 2004: (QUARANTINE ACT CAP. 384 L.F.N. 1990 ACT CAP. Q2 L.F.N. 2004) originating from the Act of 1926
1. This Act may be cited as the Quarantine Act.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires: “ _dangerous infectious disease_ ” means cholera, plague, yellow fever, smallpox and typhus, and includes any disease of an infectious or contagious nature which the President may, by notice, /declare to be a dangerous infectious disease within the meaning of this Act;
[1929 No. 7.]
“ _local area_ ” means a well-defined area, such as a local government area, a department, a canton, an island, a commune, a town, a quarter of a town, a village, a port, /an agglomeration, whatever may be the extent and population of such areas.
3. *Power to declare any place an infected local area*
The President may, by notice, declare any place whether within or without Nigeria to be an infected local area, /and thereupon such place shall be an infected local area within the meaning of this Act. [1929 No. 7.]
The President may make regulations for all or any of the following purposes:
(a) prescribing the steps to be taken within Nigeria upon any place, /whether within or without Nigeria, being declared to be an infected local area;
(b) prescribing the introduction of any dangerous infectious disease into Nigeria or any part thereof from any place without Nigeria, whether such place is an infected local area or not;
(c) preventing the spread of any dangerous infectious disease from any place within Nigeria, whether an infected local area or not, to any other place within Nigeria;
(d) preventing the transmission of any dangerous infectious disease from Nigeria or from any place within Nigeria , whether an infected local area or not, to any place without Nigeria;
(e) prescribing the powers and duties of such officers as may be charged with carrying out such regulations;
(f) fixing the fees and charges to be paid.
Please read the Act here: lawnigeria.com
Please note that the root of this act is the colonial period. The Act was in 1926, but successively as part of the Received English laws we continued to re-enact it as Nigerian Law so it is a current Act.
Those who intend to go to court to challenge the President’s powers of Quarantine can do so. I wish them good luck. Please note that the President did not pronounce a State of Emergency.