Court That Can Try Cases On Quarantine And Lockdown In Nigeria

Court That Can Try Cases On Quarantine And Lockdown In Nigeria

Court That Can Try Cases On Quarantine And Lockdown In Nigeria. Daily Law Tips (Tip 554) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

Laws create duties and rights as well as offences and their resultant sanctions/punishments as well as declare/create courts with powers to try such offences. Where a particular law provides means of doing a thing, doing such thing contrary to the law is illegal. There are numerous courts in Nigeria, from state owned courts to federal government owned courts, with the Supreme Court at the top. Courts cannot handle cases/matters outside their powers. With the growing cases of alleged offenders of quarantine in Abuja, Lagos and other states, there is need to determine the right courts to charge and arraign suspects in.

Nigeria has a federal law (Quarantine Act) for prevention and management of dangerous infectious diseases, like COVID-19. The law was made in 1926 and provides duties of separate stakeholders in the prevention and management of public health crisis. By virtue of the provisions of the Quarantine Act, the Lagos State Governor made the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 on 27 March 2020. Sequel to powers under the Quarantine Act, the President of Nigeria, made the COVID-19 Regulations of 2020 on 30 March 2020. It must be mentioned that the Governor of Lagos State, not only relied on his powers under the Quarantine Act but also on his powers to make Regulations under the Lagos State Public Health Law. Many other states across Nigeria, have made State Regulations to combat COVID-19. All the Regulations made towards COVID-19 have duties, rights and sanctions.

Regulations, Orders, Rules and Bye-Laws made be an executive government are subsidiary legislations. For administrative convenience, law makers (legislative arm of government) in the laws they make, often give quasi-legislative powers to the executive arm of government (like, the President, Federal Ministers, Head of Federal Parastatals, Governors, State Commissioners and Head of State Parastatals) to make Regulations and Rules towards effective and efficient implementation of existing laws. Through quasi-legislative powers (partial/limited/seeming and make shift legislative powers) delegated to the executive arm of government by the legislative arm over specific issues, the executive arm steps in and fills gaps for the legislative arm.

Since Regulations are subordinate legislations made subject to parent legislations (laws made by legislatures), regulations cannot overrule parent legislations. By the provisions of the Quarantine Act, the one and only court having exclusive and unshared powers (jurisdiction) over matters and issues arising from the Quarantine Act or any Regulation made pursuant to the Quarantine Act is a Magistrate Court. As such, no federal regulation or state regulation made pursuant to the Quarantine Act can confer powers to any court apart from a Magistrate Court.

References:

1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 of the Quarantine Act of 1926.

2. Sections 12, 17, 18 and 39 of the Interpretation Act.

3. Provisions of the COVID-19 Regulations 2020.

4. Regulations 1, 2, 3, 6 and 17 of the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020.

5. Sections 53 and 58 of the Lagos State Public Health Law, Cap Ch. P16, Laws of Lagos State 2015.

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Feel free to reach the author, ask questions or make inquiries on this topic or any other legal issues via onyekachi.umah@gmail.com or +2348037665878.

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