Clarifying the Extra Emergency Powers Issue

0
724

The seriousness of the Ebola epidemic calls for extraordinary measures to stop its spread.  It is time to close ranks, not time for political squabbles and constitutional wrangling.   When the State of Emergency was declared it was intended to facilitate the adoption of drastic measures such as the curfew and the quarantine of certain communities which were suspected of having a high risk of infection because of overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions.

The State of Emergency, when declared, often overrides the obligation to observe civil liberties among other protected rights including the denial of the right of Habeas Corpus.  That is why the Executive must have the consent of the national Legislature. Once such has been granted, then it gives the President the option of making the list of the prohibited activities under the State of Emergency, thereby ensuring that people are aware of what is expected of them.  Anyone dissatisfied with the imposition of any specific measures may file an injunction to constrain the government from the exercise of such specific powers.  It is for the court to decide on the validity and invalidity of such measures.

In addition, the Attorney General/ Minister of Justice may normally be expected to enter a plea of nolly prosequoi against any injunction or other such writ.

The aim of the State of Emergency is to create a deterrent to unruly conduct.  It is not to rob people of their liberties so long as there is no abuse of such liberties.  The State of Emergency does not abuse such liberties such as the right to free assembly, free speech, freedom of assembly, the practices of one's religion etc. Rather, it is meant to dissuade people from act of sedition, libel, and disinformation. What the Emergency Powers do is enable the authorities to detain offenders for a period within the span of the Emergency without necessary recourse to the normal judiciary process.

The State of Emergency may be extended at the end of the initial period of such extension is ratified by the legislature. If it is not ratified, the Emergency lapses.

It will seem to me that the President, considering the difficulty of and opposition to quarantine and the curfew when they were adopted, forcing the government to cancel the quarantine felt it necessary to ask for more specific powers that will allow it to block demonstrations, public protests, religious and other gatherings that must tend to pose a risk to people in such gatherings. During this Ebola pandemic, it is in such gatherings that the virus is more easily transmitted.  As you know, refusal to heed the instructions on combating the virus explains the rapid spread of the disease.  Hence, all must be done to put an end to such willful conduct.   

It is inconvincible that the President will want such extra powers to carry out a draconian rule.  No one needs to be afraid of losing his/her liberties.  For example, when it was clear that the West Point Community had adhered to prevention rules, the government lifted the quarantine. Whatever additional powers she receives will be used to ensure that people are safe from the spread of the virus.  People must by now be convinced of the democratic bonafides of the President.  She has ruled like a democrat in a country with problems of indiscipline.

The Legislature, civil societies, and others who may be worried about the potential abuse of power, should realize that the government needs to be well equipped with the necessary and sufficient powers to enable it to gain control over this epidemic.

It is not a time for politicking, for the fate of the nation is at stake and the President is under tremendous stress to stop the spread of the disease.  Therefore, everybody, including the Legislature, the Cabinet, Political Parties, Civil Society organizations, the churches, the Mosques, schools, colleges, and universities must all come together to bring this virus to a halt.

Those who have come from afar to help us fight the epidemic are curiously watching us to see how united we are in our stand to defeat this disease. Therefore, Political squabbles which tend to deflect our attention from the path of victory will not be encouraging to them.

SO LET US CLOSE RANKS NOW TO WIN THE WAR ON EBOLA.

Authors

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here