Activists Want Review of Infectious Disease Bill
A group of activists in Delta State have demanded a review of certain provisions in the controversial Infectious Disease Bill 2020, which they say could lead to abuse of power and undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights of the citizens.
They made this known during a press briefing in Asaba, the state capital where they called on the National Assembly to suspend all matters relating to the bill pending the fight against Coronavirus to enable full public participation in the process.
The coordinator Delta State Civil Society Community, Mr Okezie Odughala, explained that the briefing was intended to highlight grey areas in the proposed Infectious Disease Control Bill before the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly, especially as the affects the rights of the citizenry and to address avenues for abuse of power.
Mr Odugala faulted the timing of the bill which he described as austere in nature, noting that the CSOs in the state have begun to enlighten the public on the threats to their liberties if the bill is passed into law.
Similarly, a representative of Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development, Miss Benedicta Chukwuyem, was particular about sections 15, 16, 19 and 20 of the bill which she alleged poses a threat to freedom of the individual, religious freedom and liberty of association as enshrined in sections of the 1999 Constitution.
Also, Mr. Sylvester Itimi of the Civil Society Advance Forum and Sustainable Development listed other purported loopholes in the bill to include Sections 25 and 71 which gave undue leverage to disease controlling agencies where they could arrest an individual or designate a location as isolation center based on suspicion, stressing it could lead to abuse of power.
The stakeholders advocated an outright termination or complete overhaul of the gray areas in the Infectious Disease Control Bill including provisions for compulsory vaccination and payment of fees for the injections to conform to public interest.