A coalition of Civil Society Organizations, CSOs in Delta State, have kicked against the proposed Infectious Disease Bill, 2020 currently on the floor of the National Assembly, insisting that the Quarantine Act and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control Law could cover for any eventuality.
The CSOs, in a statement issued by Mr. Sylvester Itimi for Civil Society Advance Forum on Sustainable Development, Mr. Chiedozie Onyeukwu for Karachi-Urban Development Initiative, Juliet Chibogu for Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development, R.O Ughere for Human Rights and Good Governance Initiative and Deacon Okezi Odugala for Delta State Civil Society Community, held that there was no need for a new bill on infectious disease.
On the public hearing for the proposed Infectious Disease Bill, they called on the Parliament to make it open after the lockdown to enable Nigerians the CSOs air their views.
Insisting that there was no need for hurried consideration and passage of the proposed bill, the CSOs held that the proposed bill was a plagiarized copy of Singapore’s Infectious Disease Act of 1977 which was not in tandem with modern Democratic reality.
They argued that the bill as proposed gave too much power to the Director-General of the NCDC, noting it permits the NCDC DG “to declare any house an isolation area or order the arrest of any person attempting to leave such area.
“Section 16 of the bill is a very dubious instrument against religious and social organizations. It says if in the opinion of the DG any building is deemed overcrowded, the DG can make an order dispersing the crowd, and anybody who goes in commits an offense. How do you opine or conclude that the gathering is likely to expose occupants to infectious diseases? This is worrisome.”
The CSOs also frowned at Section 24 of the proposed bill, adding that “the ambiguity of this section gives police the right to arrest you even if the infectious disease one may have is not easily communicable or peradventure are merely symptoms of flu, which is pretty common in Nigeria.”
The CSOs in the statement, also faulted Sections 20, 30, 46, 47, 53, 55, 71, and others, which they held were critically infringing on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.