Public hearing: Govs, Doctors, Labour, others tackle Reps over NCDC bill

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the  Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigerian Medical Association on Wednesday faulted the Quarantine Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill 2020, also known as the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020.

The NGF, the NLC and the NMA at the  House of Representatives public hearing on the bill in Abuja, said the proposed law would lead to confusion.

The House organised the hearing following the uproar over the proposals as well as an alleged plan by the lawmakers to block inputs by stakeholders and members of the public.

The House, a few weeks ago passed the bill for second reading. The proposed law was jointly sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; chairmen of the House committees on Health Institutions and Health Services, Paschal Obi and Tanko Sununu, respectively.

But protests greeted the proposed law, titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and Enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, Make Provisions Relating to Quarantine and Make Regulations for Preventing the Introduction into and Spread in Nigeria of Dangerous Infectious Diseases.’

The bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act of 1926 and when passed, will also repeal the Nigeria National Health Act, 2004, National Programme on Immunisation Act, Cap N71, LFN 2004; and the Environmental Health Officers (Registration, etc) 2002.

If passed into law, the minister of health will be empowered by law to declare any premises to be an isolation centre for the purpose of preventing the spread or possible outbreak of infectious diseases.

It also confers on the police, the power to arrest and quarantine violators without warrant.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he will never trade national values in response to what he described as “coercion”.

Morrison’s comments come after Beijing urged Chinese students to not study in Australia, citing the risk of Covid-19 and of racist attacks. The Australian government has rejected the accusations.

Relations have soured since Australia echoed the US in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, which was first detected in China late last year.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner but in recent weeks Beijing has banned Australian beef imports and imposed steep tariffs on barley from the country. International education is Australia’s fourth-largest export industry, worth A$38bn ($26bn; £20bn) annually.

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