Infectious Diseases Bill: Court hears Melaye’s suit against Gbajabiamila, others June 15

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday fixed June 15, to hear the suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye seeking to drop some provisions of the Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 presently before the National Assembly.

Justice Ojukwu announced the date for definite hearing after granting a request for a short adjournment by Melaye’s lawyer, Mr. Nkemakolam Okoro.

Melaye had dragged Gbajabiamila and four others to court over the controversial Control of Infectious Disease Bill 2020.

The other respondents are the clerk of the National Assembly, clerk of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami and the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu.

The bill sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has passed second reading on the floor of the lower chamber and seeks to amongst others confer powers on the federal government to convert any property in the country, including private properties, to isolation centres.

It 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 other things.

Hearing in the matter could not go on on Monday as planned, following a request by Dino’s lawyer to respond to a notice of preliminary objection served on his client.

“The fifth respondent’s counsel at about 20 minutes ago served a notice of preliminary objection and a counter affidavit on us.

“On Friday, the fourth respondent equally served on us a notice of preliminary objection and a counter affidavit and the third respondent on Thursday, via WhatsApp, also  sent us his notice of preliminary objection”, Okoro told the court when the matter was called.

“In view of this development, I will be applying for a short adjournment to enable us respond to all these processes served on us,” he added.

The plaintiff’s lawyer in addition prayed the court to order all the respondents not to take any decision on the matter, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

Responding, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, lawyer to Gbajabiamila, urged the court to discountenance the request, adding that Okoro should have made a proper application if he was not playing to the gallery.

In a short ruling, Justice Ojukwu, adjourned the matter until June 15 and advised parties not to take any action that will jeopardise the suit since it was already in court.

The former Kogi West senator, had on May 4, approached the court to challenge the infectious diseases bill on the grounds that the bill if allowed will breach his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution.

Melaye is asking the court to intervene by striking out certain section of the proposed bill which he claimed if passed would breach his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

According to the applicant, Sections 3(8),5(3),6,8,13,15,16,17,19,23,30 and 47 of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, are in breach and or are likely to breach his fundamental rights as provided for in the constitution as well as other international laws.

He therefore, prayed the court for an order directing the first -third respondents to delete the provisions of Sections 3(8),5(3),6,8,13,15,16,17,19,23,30 and 47 of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, as same are inconsistent with Sections 33, 34,35,37,38 and 40 of the constitution  as well as other international laws.

An order of injunction restraining the respondents, whether, by themselves, their agents, employees, servants, privies and or whosoever called, from further proceeding with, or continuing with further debates with respect to the contentious sections of the bill, which provisions breache and or are likely to breach the fundamental rights of the applicant as provided for Sections 33, 34,35,37,38 and 40 of the constitution and other international laws.

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