Gabriel Dike
No fewer than 11 civil Society coalition on Tuesday in Lagos rejected the proposed new Act  ‘Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020’ before the National Assembly on the ground that it infringe on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the 11 civil society coalition, the Coordinator, Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), Mr. Achike Chude said the new bill is repleted with various contradictions brought about by the way it was smuggled into the ‘hallowed’ Chambers of the National Assembly for passage without the inputs of key stakeholders.
Chude while commending the National Assembly for the move to replace the old Act, he observed with dismay the unfolding outcome at the assembly which leaves much to be desired.
According to him, a near wholesome adoption of a foreign legal instrument such as Singapore’s infectious diseases law without attempt at domestication by the lawmakers speaks volumes about their capacity and commitment to carry out serious legislative work.
Said he: “The bill leaves a significant amount of discretion on implementing authorities and at the same time, limiting the rights of citizens and relevant institutions. So many sections or parts of the bill are simply at variance with the rights of Nigerians.
“Section 12 and 13 empowers the NCDC director general to prohibit the burial of any person on mere suspicion of infection as well as order the isolation of any person also suspected with a disease. Section 30 and 46 gives arbitrary power to the disease control body over vaccinations without seeking the consent of the people concerned.”
Chude disclosed further that Section 70  confers immunity to the authority by ousting the jurisdiction of the courts to hear cases on human rights abuses, adding “another area of concern is the empowering of the police to arrest people without warrant merely on suspicion of infection.
He noted that the bill pending at the National Assembly is a visitation of the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution and based on that the coalition called for the rejection of the proposed bill.
  “We call for mobilisation of all civil Society groups, lawyers, medical personnel, faith based organisations for the purpose of attending and rejecting the bill in the coming public sitting of the House of Representatives between the 11th and 12the, June 2020.”
A member of the coalition and also a legal practitioner, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi said the new bill before the National Assembly lacks merit and should be discarded by the lawmakers.
He described the bill as draconian which infringe on the fundamental human rights of the citizens, adding “it is dead on arrival. The bill lacks merit and should be dropped. The bill has to be killed at the public hearing in June.”
Representative of Space for Change, Sola Olutayo said the proposed bill contravene the Constitution thus the lawmakers should drop it.