- Tells court bill infringes right of Nigerians, contrary to constitutional provisions
By Alex Enumah
A former senator representing Kogi West at the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye, has commenced move at the Federal High Court Abuja to halt further hearing of a bill at the National Assembly seeking to amend the Quarantine Act CAP Q2 LFN 2004.
Melaye, who is currently challenging the election of Senator Smart Adeyemi at the Kogi State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, is specifically asking the court to intervene by striking out certain sections of the proposed bill which he claimed if passed would breach his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
The suit, which was filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr Okoro Nkemankolam, on Monday, is predicated on seven grounds and supported by a 19-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Melaye himself.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police (IG) are first to fifth respondents in the suit respectively.
According to the applicant, sections 3(8),5(3),6,8,13,15,16,17,19,23,30 and 47 of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, are in breach and or are likely to breach his fundamental rights as provided for in sections 33, 34,35,37,38 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 4, 6,7,10,11,12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Articles 2(3),7,8,9,12,17,21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,1976, Articles 3,5,8,9,10,12,13,17 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948.
“Except by the intervention of this honourable court, through this application for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the applicant, the fundamental rights of the applicant would be breached if the offending provisions of the Bill are not deleted before the passage of the Bill by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he told the court.
He added that the said Bill passed the first and second reading at the House of Representative of the National Assembly of Nigeria on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, with unimaginable speed, despite the lockdown and no known emergency which its provisions are intended to cure, in view of the fact that the federal government is already relaxing the lockdown.
“That I know as a matter of fact, that most of the provisions of the said Bill constitute a flagrant breach of my fundamental rights and or, are likely to breach my fundamental rights.
“That I know as a matter of fact that section 3(8) of the Bill which empowers the Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control, by himself or any officer under him or a police officer on his direction, to enter into any premises or gathering of people in an area declared by the president as a public health restricted zone, without a warrant, is clearly in breach of my fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and right to liberty of my human person,” Melaye claimed in his affidavit supporting the suit.
Other alleged offensive sections of the bill include those which empowers the DG of NCDC, to upon mere suspicion, that a person is infected with an infectious disease, and or recovered from an infectious disease, to arrest the person and detain him for as long as he deems necessary without a warrant or court order at any isolation centre of his choice breaches my fundamental rights liberty and dignity of human person.
“That I know as a matter of fact that section 19(5) of the Bill which makes the decision of the Minister of Health final, directly deprives me of the right of access to the court of justice, contrary to the provisions of Article 7 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“That I know as a matter of fact that section 23 of the Bill, which authorizes or empowers the DG of NCDC, or an enforcement officer of his agency or police, to seize anybody walking on the street whom he merely suspects of having an infectious disease, without any warrant is likely to infringe upon my fundamental rights to the dignity of the human person and freedom of movement as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That I also know as a matter of fact that section 30 of the said Bill, which makes vaccination, for no known specific disease, compulsory without my consent when I am either leaving or arriving in Nigeria, is likely to infringe upon my fundamental rights to privacy and dignity of the human person as provided for in sections 34 and 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“That I know as a matter of fact that section 47 of the Bill, which empowers the DG of NCDC, to direct compulsory vaccination in an outbreak or a suspected outbreak is in breach of, and or likely to breach my fundamental rights to dignity of the human person and privacy,” Melaye claimed.
He therefore prayed the court for an order, “Directing the 1st -3rd respondents to delete the provisions of sections
3(8),5(3),6,8,13,15,16,17,19,23,30 and 47 of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, as same are inconsistent with sections 33, 34,35,37,38 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as well as other international laws.
“An order of injunction restraining the respondents, whether, by themselves, their agents, employees, servants, privies and or howsoever called, from further proceeding with, or continuing with further debates with respect to sections
3(8),5(3),6,8,13,15,16,17,19,23,30 and 47 of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, which provisions breaches and or are likely to breach the fundamental rights of the applicant as provided for in sections 33, 34,35,37,38 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” and other international laws.
The suit is yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.