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What You May Not Know About The Similar Covid-19 Pandemic Disease Of 100 Years Ago That Led To Enactment Of Quarantine Act

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A friend of mine told me something around a month ago. He joked that these flu pandemics seem to appear 100 years ago there was a similar Pandemic in 1920.

Now, I remember my mother telling me a bit about this and I did my own research.

The 1920 pandemic also affected Lagos. There was a quarantine, but some people were negligent in their duty and some people aboard one of the infected ships were able to come ashore.

This enabled the Spanish Flu to spread in Lagos and people were taken to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Ikoyi (I can’t remember for sure, but I think she said that the IDH was at the location that Creek Hospital [Military Hospital now occupies on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi).

The Bubonic Plague also affected Lagos later in the 1920s.

These diseases led to the enactment of the Quarantine Act in 1926 (it has been amended a few times).

The Quarantine Act gives the president the power to declare any place within Nigeria or outside Nigeria as an infected place and it gives him the power to take all measures necessary to ensure that dangerous infectious diseases do not spread from that place to any other place in Nigeria.

Short title.

2. Interpretation.
3. Power to declare any place an infected local area.
4. Regulations.
5. Penalties.
6. Provision of sanitary stations.
7. Jurisdiction of magistrates.
8. State quarantine and powers.
An Act to provide for and regulate the imposition of quarantine and to make other
provisions for preventing the introduction into and spread in Nigeria, and the
transmission from Nigeria, of dangerous infectious diseases.
[18 of 1926. 7 of 1929. L.N. 131 of 1954)
[27th May, 1926] [Commencement.] 1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the Quarantine Act.

2. Interpretation
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-
“dangerous infectious disease” means cholera, plague, yellow fever, smallpox and
typhus, and includes any disease of an infectious or contagious nature which the Presi-
dent may, by notice, declare to be a dangerous infectious disease within the meaning of
this Act;
[1929 No. 7] “local area” means a well-defined area, such as a local government area, a depart-
ment, a canton, an island, a commune, a town, a quarter of a town, a village, a port, an
agglomeration, whatever may be the extent and population of such areas.

3. Power to declare any place an infected local area

The President may, by notice, declare any place whether within or without Nigeria to

be an infected local area, and thereupon such place shall be an infected local area within
the meaning of this Act.
[1929 No. 7]

4. Regulations
The President may make regulations for all or any of the following purposes-
(a) prescribing the steps to be taken within Nigeria upon any place, whether within
or without Nigeria, being declared to be an infected local area;
(b) prescribing the introduction of any dangerous infectious disease into Nigeria or
any part thereof from any place without Nigeria, whether such place is an in-
fected local area or not;
(c) preventing the spread of any dangerous infectious disease from any place
within Nigeria, whether an infected local area or not, to any other place within
Nigeria;
(d) preventing the transmission of any dangerous infectious disease from Nigeria
or from any place within Nigeria, whether an infected local area or not, to any
place without Nigeria;
(e) prescribing the powers and duties of such officers as may be charged with car-
rying out such regulations;
(f) fixing the fees and charges to be paid for any matter or thing to be done under
such regulations, and prescribing the persons by whom such fees and charges
shall be paid, and the persons by whom the expenses of carrying out any such
regulations shall be borne, and the persons from whom any such expenses in-
curred by the Government may be recovered;
(g) generally for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act.
[1929 No. 7.]

5. Penalties
Any person contravening any of the regulations made under this Act shall be liable to
a fine of N200 or to imprisonment for a term of six months or to both.

6. Provision of sanitary stations
The President and within each State, the Governor thereof, may provide such sanitary
stations, buildings and equipment, and appoint such sanitary anchorages as he may think
necessary for the purposes of this Act.
[LN. 131 of 1954]

7. Jurisdiction of magistrates
Proceedings for imposing any fine or imprisonment under this Act or for recovering
any expenses incurred or charged by the Government in carrying out the provisions of
this Act may be commenced before and determined by any magistrate.

Some people ask if state governors have the power to lock down their states. The act gives them that power if the president has not yet acted

8. State quarantine and powers

If and to the extent that any declaration under section 2 or 3 or this Act has not been
made, and to the extent that regulations under section 4 of this Act have not been made
by the President, power to make any such declaration and to make such regulations may
be exercised in respect of a State, by the Governor thereof as fully as such power may be
exercised by the President, and subject to the same conditions and limitations.
[LN. 131 of 1954.1

Furthermore, some people say that the president can not lock down these places because the constitution gives people the right to freedom of movement.

41. (1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society-

(a) imposing restrictions on the residence or movement of any person who has committed or is reasonably suspected to have committed a criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving Nigeria; or

(b) providing for the removal of any person from Nigeria to any other country to:-

(i) be tried outside Nigeria for any criminal offence, or

(ii) undergo imprisonment outside Nigeria in execution of the sentence of a court of law in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty:

Provided that there is reciprocal agreement between Nigeria and such other country in relation to such matter.

They say that the only way that the president can lock down these places is by declaring a state of emergency. That’s not true. Read section 45 (1a) of the constitution:

45. (1) Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society

(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or

(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons

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