HomeAnalysisBill’ll create draconian laws, lead to abuse – Falana

Bill’ll create draconian laws, lead to abuse – Falana

The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, a coalition of civil society groups led by a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, faulted most of the proposals in the bill, saying they were in  conflict with the constitution.

The ASCAB, in the memorandum presented to the House and signed by Falana, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, stated that the bill “poses  danger to the human rights of the Nigerian people.”

The group partly said, “We acknowledge that all rights are important and inseparable, but some are so fundamental that they have attained the stature of being the hallmark of constitutional democracy. State actors and fellow citizens ought not to put fundamental rights in jeopardy but must duly observe, uphold and respect them. Concerning fundamental rights, all actors must maintain utmost self restraint.

“We observe that the powers conferred on the DG of the NCDC are so pervasive as to touch on every aspect of the life of a citizen, and that no objective standards have been created for preventing arbitrariness in the claimed exercise of these powers; further that there is generally no room allowed for judicial scrutiny which makes the bill in our view a recipe for tyranny.”

According to him, “in the hands of a power-drunk autocrat, the bill, if passed into law as it is, would pose a clear and present danger to the realisation of an ordered society.

He stated,  “Our first position is to ask that the bill as a whole be jettisoned and proceed to make specific proposals in view of existing pieces of legislation.”

Falana said, “With due respect to the leadership of the House, the bill is superfluous, potentially illegal and unconstitutional.” He referred the parliament to the provisions of the NCDC Act 2018.

He stated, “However, having carefully perused the provisions of the bill, we can confidently say that we consider it a potentially dangerous piece of legislation that we recommend should be completely rejected.”

ASCAB also criticised the bill’s definition of infectious diseases as including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, cholera, leprosy, malaria, measles, polio, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, gonorrhoea and syphilis, while in another part it listed plague, yellow fever (again) and coronavirus disease as “dangerous infectious diseases.”

Falana said, “ASCAB rejects the wholesale categorisation of common ailment such as malaria as an infectious disease, for which any person may be arrested, detained and isolated. We question the propriety of the listing of all the named diseases as infectious diseases.

Some comments on bill ill-informed, outright malicious –  Gbajabiamila

But  Gbajabiamila, while declaring the event open, said many comments on the bill were “ill-informed and outright malicious.

“There are those in our society who benefit from promoting the falsehood that every government action is cynical, and every policy proposal must be the product of malignant influence.”

The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye,  in her presentation, said some sections of the bill should be amended.

Laws must recognise Nigeria’s federal structure – NMA

Also, the Secretary-General of the NMA, Dr Phillips Ekpe, asked, “The following questions ought to be asked: ‘Why the bill? Why the urgency to pass it into law? Why the public outcry? What are the remedies to assuage the outcry?

He stated, “Such laws ought to recognise the federal structure of the nation, and should not lead to a conflict between the national and sub-national governments in executing their statutory functions.”

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