Niger Lawmakers Pick Holes In State’s Shutdown, Seek Its Review

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Niger State Governor,Sani Bello


By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna


Barely twenty four hours after Niger State Government announced a dusk to dawn curfew over fears of the ravaging, deadly Covid -19 virus, the Niger State House of Assembly on Tuesday picked holes in the harsh restriction order just as the legislature called for an immediate review of the order before it comes into effect.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello had last Monday announced a curfew to start at 8:00am to 8:00pm daily as apprehensions over the spread of the Covid -19 virus escalates in Nigeria. The curfew is to begin on Wednesday 25th March, 2020.
But no sooner had the broadcast been aired, not a few cross section of citizens in the state began to criticised the total lockdown of the state.
While picking holes in the harsh restrictions order, members of the state legislature disagreed with governor Abubakar Sani Bello on the nature and duration of curfew order.
The House suggested a change in the hours of the restriction of movement from 8:00am to 8:00pm as declared by the governor and proffered that the curfew should be from 5:00pm to 8:00am daily.
At plenary on Tuesday, the lawmakers also sued for the change of the word ‘curfew’ and replaced it with the word ‘restriction’.
They argued that the word curfew suggested despotism which could only be used during violent security challenges or crises.
The position of the House arouse sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by the member representing Bosso constituency, Honourable Malik Madaki Bosso who tabled a motion on the dusk to down curfew imposed by the state governor as contained in his broadcast to citizens across the state.
Hon. Madaki Bosso argued that the dusk to down lockdown will worsen the bad economic situation in the state rather than serving as a preventative measure against Covid -19 virus spreads.
He noted that with the high level of poverty, hunger, suffering and anguish, forcing people indoors, and deny them the chance to hustle and earn their daily livelihood, life would be more at risk than it could be imagined.
The lawmaker therefore pleaded for the understanding of the House to see good reason in calling the state government to order to reconsider it’s position on the curfew slammed on the state.
And while contributing to the debate, another lawmaker, Hon Hussaini Yabagi Akote, (representing Gbako state constituency) acknowledged that though the intention of the state government was to prevent the threat of the Covid -19 virus spread in the state, the economic and social impact of the curfew would be devastating to the masses.
He said other measures the state government had taken were commendable especially the sensitization campaigns, the closure of all schools and other steps taken but he however insisted that curfew such as the one imposed by the governor would be counter productive and add more salt to the injury.
Another vocal member of the House, Hon. Shuaibu Liman Dan Iya, representing Suleja constituency, said the curfew order was more of a military term rather than civil.
He said in a situation where government ought to be seen to sympathize with the people, the curfew order was a harsh, insensitive stand from the government.
He supported that the word ‘restriction’ was better than curfew and urged the government to rethink it’s stance. He said while the House was in solidarity with the government in its efforts to tackle the possible spread of the Covid 19 virus in the state, any step that could add pains to the citizens would be unnecessary.
The House subsequently pass the motion with a resolution that the word’ curfew’ be changed to ‘restriction’ and the restriction on movements should be from 5:00 pm to 8:00am.
The lawmakers also advised that security agencies in the state should be civil and diligent in enforcing the restriction order and not to harass, intimidate and or extort the citizens as they enforce the restriction order.

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