A former deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu has said that the controversial “Infectious Diseases Bill” might likely not be passed.
He said the bill, which is currently before the National Assembly was more dangerous than the Covid-19 that brought about it.
Noting that provisions of the bill were inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, the Enugu West senator said many lawmakers were prepared to oppose it.
A statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, said Ekweremadu stated this when he featured on a radio programme, Political Voices, in Enugu State on Friday.
“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.
“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 disease itself.
“If you look at some of the provisions, it says if you have any problem with the order or the action of the DG of the agency, 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 state Assembly to make a law that purports or in effect houses the jurisdiction of the court.
“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,” Ekweremadu said.
He also faulted the Executive Order 10 issued by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The order, which Buhari issued last week, wants financial autonomy granted to state legislature and judiciary as already contained in the amendments to the constitution, carried out by the 8th National Assembly implemented.
“There has been a lot of misconception regarding that Executive Order. In the first place, it was quite unnecessary.
“We, the members of the 8th Assembly, passed the amendment to the constitution to grant financial autonomy to the state judiciary and legislature because we believed that for the sake of their independence, they should be on the First Line Charge of the states’ Consolidated Revenue Account.
“When we passed them, the President dutifully signed them into law (over a year ago). That should have been the end of it because the amendments are self-executing.
“We expected that having done that, the states should go ahead to work out the modalities, but that didn’t happen.
“So, the President now set up a committee headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation to work out the modalities for implementation.
“I think it was at that point that they deemed it necessary to come up with an Executive Order to strengthen the implementation. But regrettably, they have simply mutilated those provisions of the Constitution as amended,” Ekweremadu said.
He, therefore, called on the governors to reach out to the president, pinpoint those mistakes for withdrawal in the Executive Order.