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Published On: Wed, Jul 1st, 2020

Court refuses to stop Reps from passing Infectious Disease Bill

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  • …dismisses Melaye’s suit

By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed a suit filed by a former Kogi West senator, Dino Melaye, challenging some provisions of the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, also known as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Bill.
The court in his judgement, aligned with the preliminary objections raised by the Respondents against the suit.
It held that it lack jurisdiction to hear it, adding that the bill will not be subject of litigation until it is signed into law.
The controversial Bill, is seeking among others to empower the National Center for Disease Control NCDC to take over any premises and turn them into isolation centers without compensation for the owner.
The bill also seeks to arrest and detain a suspected infected person with his or her consent.
The suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye was brought pursuant to Section 34(1),35 37, 38, 40, 41(1), 44, and 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Article 4,6,7,10,11,12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right.
Meleya in his argument maintained that the controversial bill would specifically violate his fundamental rights to dignity of his person, personal liberty, private and family life, right to freedom of movement and right to own immovable property in Nigeria.
Reacting, the Respondents, in their separate preliminary objections, posited that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to invoke the court’s jurisdiction over a law that is yet to be signed into law.
According to them, a Bill that is yet to become a Law could not have breached any of the plaintiff’s constitutional right, adding that a Bill undergoing the process of passage could not be subjected to litigation.
Going further in their argument, the respondents averred that, by separation of power, the judiciary cannot interfere in the legislative business of the National Assembly.
They maintained that the Bill would still be subjected to public hearing where the Applicant would have the opportunity to ventilate his concerns.
The Respondents submitted that the suit is frivolous and time-wasting, therefore urged the court to dismiss it.
According to them, the Applicant failed to show how a Bill that has not been enacted into law violated his fundamental rights.
The respondents to the suit are the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu.
In her judgement, the court upheld the preliminary objections of the respondents and dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
However, the court noted that concerns Melaye raised in the suit were “grave”, saying “it behoves on the Respondents to accord the Bill a second look”.

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