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NASS may not pass Infectious Disease Bill – Ekweremadu

Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Friday, said the controversial Infectious Disease Bill before the National Assembly is not likely to be passed. He said, the bill is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.

Ekweremadu, who represents Enugu West Constituency at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, spoke during ‘Political Voices’, a radio programme monitored by The PUNCH.

He explained that the bill is more dangerous than the infection it intends to prevent.

He said, “Let me use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that the bill as presently presented will likely not be passed by the National Assembly; a lot of parliamentarians have lined up to oppose it.”

Absolving his colleagues that presented the bill, Ekweremadu said they have the right to bring it to the parliament, he said, “The parliament is essentially a market place of ideas like every other market; come to a market and then come with a product that is not good or rotten or whatever you are not likely going to sell it but, you are entitled to bring your product to the market.

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“So, my colleagues who introduced the bill both at the Senate and Reps are entitled to bring the bill to the National Assembly that is part of their privileges as parliamentarians but whether that will succeed or not is another kettle of fish.

“Now, looking at that bill which is intended to deal with dangerous or other infectious diseases, it appears to me that the bill itself is more dangerous than even the infectious diseases itself. If you look at some of the provisions it said that if you have any problem with the order or the action of the DG of the agency (NCDC), then you have to appeal to the minister and whatever the minister says is final.

“That is not in tandem with the provisions of our constitution, especially section 4:8 of our constitution. That is section 4 subsection 8 that deals with the issue of courts and court jurisdictions. Section 4 sub-section 8 says that ‘no attempt should be made by either the National Assembly or any States Assembly to make a law that purport or in effect house the jurisdiction of the court.

“So you must have access to go to court if you have any issue that demands that, so to that extent that bill is null and void, it is unacceptable, it is unconstitutional.”

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