By James Ameh
ABUJA--The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Wednesday, has fixed hearing on a suit seeking to stop the House of Representatives from taking further steps to pass the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 for June 1.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu who presided over the case adjourned the matter to enable the plaintiff, Senator Dino Melaye, serve the court processes on all the respondents.
The respondents in suit include the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu.
When the matter came up Wednesday, the court was informed thay the Clerks of both the National Assembly and the House of Representatives, as well as the AGF, had no legal representation.
However, the Speaker of the House of Reps, Gbajabiamila who the 3rd respondent and sponsor of the Bill, was represented by his lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, who informed the court that he was yet to be served with the relevant processes to enable him respond to the suit.
Justice Ojukwu then asked the Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Nkem Okoro, to ensure that all the respondents were duly served with all the court processes before the adjourned date.
The IGP who is the 5th respondent in the case was represented by his lawyer, Mr. Kehinde Oluwole.
But Justice Ojukwu however, refused to issue an interim order, restraining the respondent from taking any furthet steps in respect to the Bill, until the determination of the suit, pointing out that the condition precedent that would empower the court to issue such ex-parte injunction had not been met by the plaintiff since all the parties had not been served with the relevant processes.
Melaye, who former Senator representing Kogi West, had is contending that several portions of the proposed law which were in the proposed bill aimed at amending the Quarantine Act of 1926, were unconstitutional, illegal, and wrongful, adding that they would amount to flagrant abuse of his fundamental rights.
He also stated that the Bill which was being sponsored by the Speaker, passed the 1st and 2nd reading on April 28, “with unimaginable speed, despite the lockdown and there is no known emergency which its provisions are intended to cure, in view of the fact that the Federal Government is already relaxing the lockdown.”
He then asked for, “An order of injunction restraining the Respondents, whether, by themselves, their agents, employees, servants, privies and or howsoever called, from further proceeding with, or continuing with further debates with respect to sections 3(8),5(3),6,8,13,15,16,17,19,23,30 and 47 of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, which provisions breaches 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 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 4, 6,7,10,11,12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Articles 2(3),7,8,9,12,17,21 and 22 of The International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights,1976, Articles 3,5,8,9,10,12,13,17 and 20 Of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights,1948.