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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

36 CSOs demand public scrutiny of Gbajabiamila’s ‘Infectious Diseases Bill’ - ITREALMS

Some 36 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have demanded public scrutiny of the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila’s ‘Infectious Diseases Bill’ reports ITREALMS.

The group in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS noted that on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, the National Assembly resumed legislative activities after one month of recess, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. ITREALMS recalls that upon resumption, the House of Representatives considered a bill entitled ‘Control of Infectious Diseases Bill’ co-sponsored by Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Reps; Rep. Pascal Obi; and Rep. Tanko Sununu.

The bill, 
ITREALMS gathered, seeks to repeal the obsolete Quarantine Act of 1929 and enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, make provisions relating to quarantine and regulations for preventing the introduction into and spread of dangerous infectious diseases in Nigeria, and for other related matters.

“The Bill has passed first and second reading at plenary under controversial circumstances,” the CSO said, lamenting that the bill was slated for a record third reading that same day, before it was resisted by some vigilant members.

Therefore, the CSOs demand as a matter of urgency that:

“1. The House of Representatives subject the Bill to public scrutiny by embarking on stakeholder consultations and a public hearing to harness public inputs into the legislation. The House should utilize the opportunity provided by the reviewed lockdown policy to consult with relevant stakeholders and the people; and

“2. Review all provisions of the Bill that foster inter-agency conflicts and abuse of power and undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights and are contrary to the rule of law and Nigeria’s International human rights obligations.”

The group maintained that the imperativeness of a legislative framework that guarantee effective response to pandemic/public health crises, “we must do so within the rule of law and in conformity with the Constitution and Nigeria’s International human rights obligations and democratic principles.”

The CSOs further urged the National Assembly to refrain from vesting powers beyond the remit of the institutions.

“We must avoid the temptation of vesting absolute powers in public officials as this could be abused and misused to undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights. Laws must be made for the people and any law that fails to protect the human rights of the people as guaranteed in the constitution must be rejected in its entirety,” he declared.

Chuks Egbune/DoP

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