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Punishment For Violation Of The Covid-19 Regulations Or The Quarantine Act

Punishment For Violation Of The Covid-19 Regulations Or The Quarantine Act

 Punishment For Violation Of The Covid-19 Regulations Or The Quarantine Act. Daily Law Tips (Tip 541) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

Law without sanction is a mockery. There will always be sanction in laws to deter people from violation as well as punish and reform offenders. It follows that law with weak sanction may be frequently violated hence the need for law to always grow with societies and realities of the day.

The Quarantine Act of 1926, is the federal law in Nigeria that covers control of dangerous infectious diseases like cholera, plague, smallpox, yellow fever and typhus, and empowers the President of Nigeria to declare any disease, a dangerous infections disease and make Regulations to prevent and manage public health crisis.

Flowing from the provisions of the Quarantine Act of 1926, the President of Nigeria made a subsidiary legislation (the COVID-19 Regulations of 2020) to control and prevent the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. The said Regulation was made on 30 March 2020 at Abuja, Federal Capital Territory. What are the sanctions, penalties or punishments contained in the Quarantine Act and the COVID-19 Regulations?

The Quarantine Act provides maximum punishment of a fine of not more than Two Hundred Naira (#200.00) (ie.$0.6, (ie.$0.6 at the rate of $1=#360.00) and or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months. The COVID-19 Regulations does not have any specific punishment, therefore, any violation of the Regulation provisions is be punishable by the provisions of the Interpretation Act; fine of not more than One Hundred Naira (#100.00) (ie.$0.3 at the rate of $1=#360.00) and or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months.

In today’s Nigeria, when the national minimum wage is Thirty Thousand Naira (#30,000.00) (ie.$83 at the rate of $1=#360.00) with a per capital of $6,232.00, maximum monetary punishment (fine) of #200.00 is not a sufficient. There is no deterrence as many Nigerians can afford to violate this law and its Regulation for over ten times in a day. However, the imprisonment term of six (6) months seem to still be relevant and sufficient today. Since a court, is at liberty to order both or either of the fine or imprisonment, there is need to ensure the Quarantine Act is amended to reflect realities of present day Nigeria and Nigerians.

To avoid waste of tax payers fund, it most be reiterated that the sanction/penalties provided in the Quarantine Act of 1926 cannot be increased, altered or amended by any executive Regulation/Order or any subsidiary legislation, rather by an amendment Act of the National Assembly. It is settled law that a Subsidiary legislation cannot increase punishment or coverage specified by its Parent legislation.

The writer is not unaware of COVID-19 pandemic and governments interventions to end it. The security and welfare of the good people of Nigeria are the primary purpose of government, however government must be lawful and law abiding in achieving such purpose. It is advised that constitutional procedures and statutory processes should be engaged at all times to avoid causing more problems in attempting to solve one. We must conquer COVID-19 without violating fundamental human rights of Nigerians. Stay at Home and Stay Healthy.


1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the Quarantine Act of 1926.

2. Sections 12 (1) (c), 37 and 39 of the Interpretation Act of 1964.

3. The Supreme Court’s judgement in the case of ODENEYE v. EFUNUGA (1990) LPELR-2208(SC)

4. The Supreme Court’s judgement in the case of OSADEBAY v. AG BENDEL STATE (1991) LPELR-2781(SC)

5. The Court of Appeal’s Judgment in the case of OMATSEYE v. FRN (2017) LPELR-42719(CA)










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