PROPOSED CONTROL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES BILL THREATENS NATIONAL SECURITY
Our assessment of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill desperately scheduled for passage in the House of Representatives, has revealed a very disturbing draft that could potentially undermine national security. The act in its present form raises red flags which are capable of jeopardizing the peace, security and health architecture of the country.
The bill is in conflicts with certain constitutional powers vested in the President, Governors, National Assembly and is not inclined to judicial review. The bill has all the trappings of provisions that could emasculate public rights, fundamental human rights and democratic rights.
The bill lacks ingenuity in: country-integrated and experts driven national protocols that a Vaccine and the process of administering it must meet before it is applied in Nigeria; and it also fails to create a board of experts that should jointly review sensitive decisions.
While we welcome every genuine effort to repeal and replace the Quarantine Act with a comprehensive legal framework for “preventing the introduction into and spread in Nigeria of dangerous infectious diseases, and for other related matters,” we also want the lawmakers to know that the passage of this bill cannot be rushed because it is in conflict with the constitution and threatens national security.
And, since there is nothing that suggested that the immediate passage of the bill is a quick-solution and an emergency response to addressing the growing COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, or of any immediate concomitant effect, the house must reconsider and convene a public hearing.
However, we fear that any further attempt to hurriedly act on this proposed bill, could lend credence to rising public concerns and conspiracy theories on social media locally and internationally, that the House of the Representatives is acting insensitively under the “dark influence” of some global vaccine players, with undeclared interest.
The sponsors of this bill have demonstrated crass ignorance of history about public resistance to vaccine in Nigeria; and consequently, the suspicions already generated by the poor handling of this process are bound to trigger a new wave of resistance and rejection when a COVID-19 vaccine is eventually discovered and brought into the country.
The House must immediately shelve the idea of an urgent third reading of the bill and subject it to public scrutiny.
Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution
Free Nigeria Coalition
4th May 2020