On the 28th of April 2020, a draft of the Nigerian Infectious Disease Act Bill passed its second reading. The Bill presented by speaker Femi Gbajabiamila seeks to appeal the 2004 National Quarantine Act, by enacting a new regime for infectious disease ...
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On the 28th of April 2020, a draft of the Nigerian Infectious Disease Act Bill passed its second reading. The Bill presented by speaker Femi Gbajabiamila seeks to appeal the 2004 National Quarantine Act, by enacting a new regime for infectious disease prevention and control. This bill will enable the government to take any enforceable action that limits the spread of infectious diseases like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The real-world implications for citizens, for example, from Section 58 of the bill, law enforcement agents will be empowered to detain, and make an arrest based on suspicion (attempt to leave or have been in an isolated area) and to do so without requiring any proof of wrongdoing from citizens “without a warrant”. This will contravene citizen’s constitutional right to assume fair hearing and innocence, according to the 1999 constitution.
Many Nigerians now understand that the bill will invariably authorize the Nigerian Security forces to play the role of health workers, according to Section 24. They will be empowered to destroy buildings if the infectious disease occurs (after obtaining an order from the court).
It is worth noting that Nigerian citizens and the Nigerian government agencies recently have protested incidence of extrajudicial killings and brutality from poorly trained police officers, since the lockdown started on March 30th, in parts of the country.
Nigerians react to the bill
Some Nigerians have said that the bill will give power to the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), who is a non-elected member of the office.
Some Nigerians on twitter with the hashtag #StoptheNCDCBill protested against the draft this past week. The 44-page draft shares great similarities with the Singaporean Infectious Disease act of 1977, at a time Singapore was led by a single party dictatorship system. This further exemplifies why many consider the bill draconian and thus not meant a democratic nation like Nigeria, as it also does not notice the assumed rights of citizens.
Read the proposed infectious disease act