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Court Dismisses Melaye’s ‘Infectious Diseases Bill’ Suit

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Suit

On Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, a suit filed by a former Kogi West senator, Dino Melaye, challenging some provisions of the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, widely referred to as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Bill was dismissed.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu upheld the notices of preliminary objection filed against the suit for lack of jurisdiction to hear it.

The judge who did not bother to consider the case on merit held that the issue raised in it was not justiciable, as the bill could not be a subject of litigation until it is signed into law.

Melaye had on May 5, 2020, filed the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020, urging the court to delete sections 5, 8, 15, 16 and 17 of the bill which he said constituted a violation or would likely violate his rights under the Nigerian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

The provisions of the bill being contested by Melaye included the ones seeking to empower the Director-General of the NCDC to compel anyone to take medical examination or treatment and also collect the blood sample of such person in the case of a public health emergency.

Some of the provisions also seek to empower the NCDC to take over any premises and turn them into isolation centres without compensation for the owner.

It was earlier reported that Dino Melaye, has filed a lawsuit at a Federal High Court in Abuja against the infectious diseases bill titled ‘Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020’,

Defendants in the suit are Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, among others.

The bill which was sponsored by Gbajabiamila and his colleagues, Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu, seeks to empower the Federal Government to convert any property in the country, including private properties, to isolation centres.

According to them, the proposed law is designed to prevent the spread of a possible outbreak of infectious diseases but members of the House protested that they were not served copies of the bill while it was read at plenary on Tuesday before it hurriedly passed first and second readings on the same day.

There were also accusations that the sponsors largely plagiarised a similar law on disease control by Singapore.

Melaye, in a tweet on Monday, stated that he had taken legal action against Gbajabiamila and others.

He said, “I have just filed a court action against the Speaker and House of Representatives on the wicked bill initiated by Hon Femi Gbajabiamila this morning at the Federal High Court Abuja. We shall overcome.”

The document with Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020, which was shared by Melaye’s Twitter account, listed the defendants as Gbajabiamila; Malami; Adamu; the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori; the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Patrick Giwa.

The notice of application was filed “in the matter of an application by Senator Dino Melaye for an order for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to the dignity of his person, personal liberty, right to private and family life, right to freedom of movement and right to own immovable property in Nigeria.”

It stated that the “notice of application for an order enforcing fundamental rights (is) brought pursuant to Sections 34 (1), 35 37, 38, 40, 41 (1), 44, and 46 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered; (and) Articles 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.”

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