A coalition of civil society groups consisting of 41 organisations, including the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Amnesty International and YIAGA Africa, has said that the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill proposed by Nigerian lawmakers is a threat to human rights.
The group, like many Nigerians, expressed concerns over how quickly the bill scaled through a second reading and said that the bill should be subjected to scrutiny through stakeholders’ consultations and public hearing. The bill, sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, seeks to strengthen the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to not just react and respond to outbreaks but to be proactive. The bill also seeks to empower the president, the minister for health, and the director-general of the NCDC to make regulations on quarantining, vaccination, and prevention of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
The group, in a statement, said that the bill aims to empower the NCDC to restrict fundamental human rights and freedom, noting, ‘The bill violates principles of drafting legislative rules mandating laws to be clear, simple, and unambiguous. This leaves room for a significant amount of discretion on the part of the implementing authorities and limits the rights of citizens and respective institutions to question decisions taken in the exercise of the powers provided in the bill. For instance, Section 10 (3) gives the Director-General express powers to use force to enter any premises without a warrant’.
The group, therefore, demanded ‘a review of all provisions of the bill that foster inter-agency conflicts and abuse of power and undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights and are contrary to the rule of law and Nigeria‘s international human rights obligations’.
Source: Premium Times
Photo source: Temidayo Johnson