It’s Illegal To Acquire, Convert Private Houses To Isolation Centres, Lawyer Tells Speaker Of Nigeria’s House Of Representatives, Gbajabiamila

A lawyer and human rights activist, Malachy Ugwumadu, has faulted the controversial ‘Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020’ sponsored by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The bill, among other things, seeks to give the government the power to take over any property including private properties and convert same to isolation centres.

The new bill, according to the Speaker, makes some controversial regulations for preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and for other related matters.

Recall that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said it was running out of isolation centre as COVID-19 cases in the country continues to increase.

In a chat with our correspondent, Ugwumadu not only faulted the provision of the bill but also said the bill cannot negate the provision of the constitution of the country.

He said, “A bill that is set on a collision course with the express provision of the constitution is bound to succumb to the superiority of the constitution when it’s passed pursuant to S. 1(3) of the 1999 constitution.

 “Such right or interest can only be acquired compulsorily for public purposes upon payment of adequate compensation jointly assessed by the government i.e. the acquiring authority.

“If the acquisition is for temporary purposes to deal with examination, investigation or inquiry of COVID-19 cases, pursuant to the provision of the proposed bill when passed, then it will be legally permissible by virtue of S. 44(2)(K) of the 1999 constitution but how much of those powers vested in individual members (Minister/DG) of the executive without a corresponding power of the judiciary to review or check before the acquisition are susceptible to abuse is the fundamental concerns of the public.”

Gbajabiamila had insisted on the passage of the bill, adding that public hearing would not be done before the passage of the bill due to the outbreak of the pandemic.

Nigeria currently has 2802 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 93 deaths with 417 discharged.


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