The Minority in Parliament has urged support for the lockdown announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday.The restrictions, the Minority said, are in order to address the public health crises of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Chairperson of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee and Former Deputy Minister for Justice, Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, made the call on Saturday during an interview with thecustodianghonline.com. He stressed that in many jurisdictions like the United States, there are far more severe restrictions where the total lockdown of states and cities have been declared.
He said, “What the President has done is in order and my advice to people is to obey the President. This is based on common sense because we are in a public health crisis.”
“It is an emergency and Ghanaians owe themselves a duty as well as their neighbours to keep to themselves locked down to ensure we don’t spread the virus.” The Bolgatanga East MP argued that though the Imposition of Restrictions Act, on which the restrictions announced by the President are based is highly problematic, Ghanaians need to support the measure and obey the President.
He emphasized, however, that President Akufo-Addo would have been better served by coming under Article 31 of the Constitution and declaring a state of emergency, then having Parliament determine the scope and content of the declaration.Parliament, he said, would then be able to hold the President accountable if he exercises any powers that are contrary to the Constitution.
“Unfortunately, what the Majority did in pushing through the Imposition of the Restrictions Law is basically to enact the exceptions to our fundamental rights into law and suspend our basic rights and freedoms.”
“I think that is palpably unconstitutional but I will continue to say that whatever orders the President has given should be obeyed by Ghanaians but they are very illegal orders.” Dr. Ayine, however, cautioned that the partial lockdown announced by the President is not far-reaching.
The current lockdown, he said, will not prevent movement of persons from the hot spot zones of the Coronavirus into areas that have not recorded any cases yet, or have very low confirmed cases.According to him, the likelihood of people moving from the identified ‘hot spots’ to less susceptible areas will still spread the virus and defeat the purpose of the partial lockdown.
“So I will have gone for a total lockdown of the country given the nature of the crises,” he said.He argued some of the exemptions will not help the state in the long term and cited the exemption of the judiciary from the lockdown as an example.“For Instance, the judiciary is supposed to be operating. Lawyers service judges and clients. Are they supposed to go to court with the clients and appear before judges?”
“How are we going to control the numbers in the courts to ensure there is sufficient space for social distancing that will not spread the virus,” he quizzed?