OPEN LETTER:
Civil Liberties Organisation
South South Zone

Date- 6th May, 2020.
The Speaker
Rt Hon Femi Gbajamabiala
House of Representatives
Federal Republic of Nigeria
National Assembly Complex
Abuja

Dear Sir,

RE: The control of infectious disease bill, 2020

We at the South South Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, write to express our concerns and worries over the exclusion of citizens and citizens organizations, including the South South zone of the CLO in the legislative processes with respect to the control of infectious disease bill 2020 which is presently before the honourable house and to request that the bill be subjected to proper legislative processes, including wide consultations and public hearing.

We are aware that the bill was sponsored by your honourable self, the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives to provide an updated basis for the Government’s anti-pandemic efforts, both presently and in future.

We believe that the bill was conceived with noble intentions as part of the efforts towards containing the CORONA VIRUS pandemic. We commend you, not only for this noble gesture, but for always ensuring that the House always remains the hope of the masses at all times.

We note with great concern that certain provisions in the said bill, including subjecting people to forceful vaccination against their will, have been identified as being in conflict with the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria, especially with respect to fundamental human rights of citizens.

We are worried that the bill, as it was conceived, is capable of forcefully taking away the liberties of citizens and expose them to dangers of side effects of medical procedures forced on them without their consent. It is important to note that choice and consent are key elements under the right to health and therefore should not be decreed away under whatever guise, including law making.

We are aware that the said bill has scaled first and second readings and is at the verge of being passed into law by the honourable speaker even when it has not been subjected to public scrutiny and input through public hearing.

We wonder why the proper legislative process should be circumvented in the pursuit of a law that borders on life, health and safety of citizens, including those yet to be born.

We are worried that if the proper thing is not done, the bill when passed into law, is bound to suffer credibility and acceptability challenges which may render it ineffective, impotent, worthless, wasted efforts and an exercise in futility.

It is our humble submission that the bill should not be passed without recourse to the laid down procedure of public hearing to allow Nigerians participate in the process of making the law.

Shutting out Nigerians from public debate on such crucial legislation would raise suspicions that the promoters and sponsors of the bill have sinister objectives they are pursuing. Already, there are insinuations that the bill is being hurriedly packaged to pave the way for forceful vaccination of Nigerians, against their will, with the coded COVID-19 vaccine being promoted by an international organizatiom, despite the controversies the said vaccine is generating across the world.

In our democracy, citizens have the right to participate, through consultations and public hearing, in law making process. It is a violation of their rights and a breach of the law making process to shut them out.

The Right Honourable Speaker, Nigeria needs a bill or law that can comprehensively address issues of infectious diseases, epidemics or pandemics in a manner that protects the health, safety, and rights of all Nigerians, not the type that will expose people’s lives and rights to danger.

We believe that such bill required to address issues of epidemics can only be possible with public engagements, stakeholders participation and wide consultations. Moreover, at this trying time in the History of the country, all hands are expected to be on deck to save Nigeria from the COVID-19 scourge.

We therefore, most respectfully urge you, the Honourable Speaker, to use your good offices to:

Halt the planned hasty passage of the bill until it is subjected to public scrutiny;

Direct that wide consultations of stakeholders, citizens and Civil Society Organizations are held before the bill is eventually passed into law;

Organize public hearings on the bill and ensure it is attended by stakeholders and CSOs from across the country. The public hearing should be widely publicized and invitations should be extended to CSOs, including the South South Zone of the C.L.O.

We thank you immensely for your kind understanding.

Karl Chinedu Uchegbu
Zonal Chairman

Styvn Obodoekwe
Zonal Director

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