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Published On: Thu, May 21st, 2020

Again, court declines to stop Reps from passing NCDC bill

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Summons Speaker, others over moves to invite opposition

By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday, for the second time, rejected a motion to stop the House of Representatives from continuing the consideration of the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020.
The order is following the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the third defendant in the suit, has not been served with the court originating summon.
The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020, against the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Bill, before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu was instituted by Senator Dino Melaye a former senator representing Kogi West.
The suit dated May 5, 2020, alleged that the controversial bill was a violation of his fundamental rights to the dignity of his person, personal liberty, right to private and family life, right to freedom of movement and right to own immovable property in Nigeria.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu were mentioned as respondents.
The court had at the last adjourned date, refused an ex parte application by the plaintiff asking for an order directing parties to maintain status quo in the matter.
The court, however, summoned the respondents to appear before her yesterday(Wednesday) to show cause why they the court by the way of interim order granted the request of the plaintiff.
When the matter was called up, yesterday, the 1st, 2nd and 4th respondents; Clerks of both the National Assembly and the House of Representatives and the AGF were absent from court and not represented by their lawyers.
Sen Melaye, through his counsel, Mr. Nkemakolam Okoro, informed the court that the respondents had failed to file any processes to show cause why such restraining order should not be issued by the court.
He urged the court to order parties to maintain the status quo to protect the subject matter and prevent a situation of foisting a “fait accompli” on the court.
Reacting, Gbajabiamila though absent in court, through his counsel, Kayode Ajulo, told the court that he had yet to be served with any processes or court order in respect of the suit.
In her bench ruling, Justice Ojukwu, declined to grant the plaintiff’s request.
The court held that the May 13, 2020 summons for the defendants to appear in court yesterday (Wednesday) to show cause why they should not be restrained concerning the NCDC bill, was predicated on the service of all the respondents with the required court documents.
“Since the condition precedent has not been met, I would rather hold that the matter proceeds to hearing,” she held.
The matter had been adjourned till June 1 for hearing.
Meanwhile, Jusrice Taiwo Taiwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja, has ordered the House of Representatives to Appear before the court over moves by the House of Representatives to invite the Opposition Coalition (CUPP) Spokesperson Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, to appear before the Henry Nwawuba led House ad-hoc Committee within seven days
Delivering the ruling in the suit brought by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere held that once a matter is in court parties must not do any act to foist upon the court a situation of fair accompli.
Defendants in the matter are Femi Gbajabiamila, House of Representatives, Clerk of the National Assembly and the Inspector General of Police.
Aside restraining the House of Representatives from going ahead with the probe, the court also ordered accelerated hearing of the case.
In a Motion Ex-parte dated and file on 7th May, 2020, the court held, ‘’The Defendants are enjoined not to do anything on the subject matter of this suit and the reason for the exparte application until the court considers the affidavit to show cause why the court should not grant prayers 2 and 4’’.
In prayer two, the plaintiplaintifff begged the court for an order directing the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Clerk of the National Aasembly to produce and tender, on oath, before this Honourable Court original version of the Control of Infections Disease Bill, 2020; within 7 days thereof.
He also asked for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants whether by Itself, members, Committees, agents, staff, privies or howsoever described, from proceeding with the Committee hearing or sitting of any Committee or Inviting, indicting and/or otherwise proceeding against the Plaintiffs In connection with the opposition, condemnation or fair Opinion expressed about the 1“, 2”“ and 3” Defendants over the alleged lnducement to pass the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 which is the subject matter of present suit pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
The matter has been adjourned to the 27th of May, 2020.

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