Infectious Disease Bill: CSOs threaten massive protest if bill is passed

Civil Society groups under the aegis of Citizens Coalition Against Impunity and Injustice have threatened a massive protest if the National Assembly does not allow the views of Nigerians concerning the infectious diseases bill to count.

Speaking at a One-Day Civil Society/Media Round table on the Infectious Disease Bill currently been debated at the National Assembly, held in Jos, the Plateau State Capital, supported by Equity International Initiative, an Executive Director with the organization, Comrade Chris Iyama, said the lawmakers were the people’s representatives and should listen to them.

Iyama said that the lawmakers should consult widely with their constituents to know what they feel before passing the bill, otherwise, it may be efforts in futility.

“The lawmakers were sent there by the people, we have every right for them to listen to us.

‘’The timing of the bill is not right, they should wait when Nigeria is completely healed of this COVID-19 fiasco,’’ he said.

The Executive Director added that, “the feelings of many Nigerians is that the bill should be dropped, otherwise Nigerians would be forced to protest against it”.

An Executive Director with the Civil Liberties Organisation, Comrade Steve Aluko said, “Laws should be a fair representation of the feelings of Nigerians and not the other way round.

Aluko maintained that, “We must ask why the National Assembly is rushing to present a bill when the pandemic is on, when a vaccination is not gotten.”

According to him, “Even the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have admitted that they have not taken a critical look at the bill, and the agency like many want the bill suspended till there is better time for it”.

Also speaking, Comrade Gad Peter of Equal Access(EA), said that the bill would not add any value to the country at this point in time.

Peter maintained that, “Nigeria’s problem is not absence of laws, but lack of implementation of existing laws.6

According to him, the intention as it were, was not to solve the existing problem but to rather cause more havoc.

He suggested that, “Instead of the National Assembly to concentrate on enacting a new law, its efforts should be geared towards empowering the nation’s research institutions to proffer solutions to the lingering health problems.”

Bello Lukman, an Editor with Unity FM in Jos, said that the bill seeks to give too much power to the NCDC even at the expense of state and local governments.

“If this bill is passed, there would be a constitutional crisis because the powers of the NCDC boss may usurp those of state governors if care is not taken,” Bello warned.

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