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West Africa

Infections Disease Bill: Court fixes June 30 for judgment in suit by Dino Melaye

A Federal High Court in Abuja has scheduled judgment for June 30 in the suit filed by former member of the Senate, Dino Melaye, challenging the consideration of the Infectious Diseases Bill by the House of Representatives.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu chose the date on Monday after lawyers to parties in the suit made their final submissions.

Melaye is contending, in the suit, that the provisions of the Bill violate his fundamental rights, among which are rights to the dignity of person, personal liberty, right to private and family life, right to freedom of movement and right to own immovable property in Nigeria.

He listed the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federal (AGF) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) as respondents.

The plaintiff stated that the Bill said to have been sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and two other members of the House of Reps – Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu- seeks to empower the Federal Government to convert any property in the country, including private property, to isolation centres.

The Bill he added,also seeks to empower the government to, upon mere suspicion that a person is infected with an infectious disease, arrest and detain the person for as long as necessary, among others.

Making his final submission on Monday, plaintiff’s lawyer, Nkem Okoro prayed the court to hold in his client’s favour and grant all the reliefs sought.

Lawyers to the respondents, including Kayode Ajulo (for Speaker, Gbajabiamila), M. L. Shiru (for the AGF) and Kehinde Oluwole (for the IGP) prayed the court to hold otherwise.

Ajulo, Shiru and Oluwole were of the view that a Bill, yet to become a law, could not have infringed on the plaintiff’s fundamental rights.

Shiru argued that the Constitution provides for the doctrine of separation of powers among the three arms of government.

She added by the principle of separation of powers, the court can only interfere in legislative processes where there is a defiance from the provisions of the Constitution.

Shiru said the court to only review the law enacted by the Legislative arm, not a Bill under consideration

“The applicant has not proved that the bill infringe on his fundamental rights. A bill is not a law yet and if it is not a law, how can it infringe on his (Melaye’s) right.?

“Therefore, application of the applicant should be discountenance by the court,” Shiru said.

She equally prayed the court to award cost against Melaye “for bringing such a frivolous application.”


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