Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday said the court will unfailing hear the suit filed by a former Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye against the passage of the Infectious Diseases Bill 2020.
Justice Ojukwu announced the said date for definite hearing after granting a request for a short adjournment by Melaye’s lawyer, Mr Nkemakolam Okoro.
Melaye had dragged the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and four others to court over the controversial bill.
The others are: Clerk of the National Assembly, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami; and the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu
The bill sponsored by Gbajabiamila has passed second reading on the floor of the lower chambers and seeks to amongst others confer powers on the federal government to convert any property in the country, including private properties, to isolation centres.
It also seeks to empower the government to, upon mere suspicion that a person is infected with an infectious disease, arrest and detain the person for as long as necessary among other things.
Hearing in the matter could not go on yesterday as planned following a request by Dino’s lawyer to respond to a notice of preliminary objection just served on his client.
“The 5th respondent’s counsel at about 20 minutes ago served a notice of preliminary objection and a counter affidavit on us.
“ On Friday, the 4th respondent equally served on us a notice of preliminary objection and a counter affidavit and the 3rd respondent on Thursday, via WhatsApp, also sent us his notice of preliminary objection”, Okoro told the court when the matter was called.
“In view of this development, I will be applying for a short adjournment to enable us respond to all these processes served on us,” he added.
The plaintiff’s lawyer in addition prayed the court to order all the respondents not to take any decision on the matter pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Responding, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, lawyer to gbajabiamila, urged the court to discountenance the request, adding that Okoro should have made a proper application if he was not “playing to the gallery”.
In a short ruling, Justice Ojukwu adjourned the matter until June 15 and advised parties not to take any action that will jeopardise the suit since it was already in court.
The former Kogi West senator, had on May 4, approached the court to challenge the infectious diseases bill on the grounds that the bill if allowed will breach his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
Melaye is 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.