Nigeria

Court Throws Out Dino Melaye’s Suit Challenging Infectious Disease Bill

A Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected a suit by Senator Dino Melaye, challenging some provisions of the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, also referred to as the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Bill.

In a judgment on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu held that her court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine issues raised in the suit by Melaye, who represented Kogi South Senatorial District in the Eighth Senate.

Justice Ojukwu upheld the preliminary objection filed against the suit by the respondents.

The judge was of the view that the issues raised in suit were not justiciable, as a Bill could not be a subject of litigation until it becomes law.

Justice Ojukwu noted that what Melaye complained against was a draft of a Bill that has not been subjected to hearing and public debate by the House of Representatives.

She said the draft Bill has no binding force of law that could be held against anybody.

The judge added that such a draft Bill could only be litigated upon when finally passed into law and assented to by the President.

She however noted that Melaye had sufficient reason to fear that his fundamental rights would be infringed upon.

The judge added that since the Bill was yet to assume the status of a law, no cause of action has arisen yet since the contentious draft Bill cannot be said to be conclusive in character.

Listed as respondents to the suit is the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and the Inspector-General of Police, IGP.

Justice Ojukwu struck out the name of the IGP as a party to the case, on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to disclose any cause of action against him.

She then proceeded to strike out the case.

Melaye had, in the fundamental rights enforcement suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020, prayed the court to delete sections 5, 8, 15, 16 and 17 of the Bill which, he claimed, constituted a violation or would likely violate his rights under the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

He challenged the Bill initiated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Femi Gbajabiamila, arguing that it (the Bill) is inconsistent with provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

The ex-Senator equally contended that, if passed into law, his right to own property among others, guaranteed by the Constitution, would be breached.

Melaye questioned Section 13 of the Bill which empowers the Director-General, DG, of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, to order the arrest of anybody suspected to have Covid-19 and refuses to make himself available for medical examination.

He also queried the legality of the provision that seeks to empowers the NCDC DG to take over anybody’s house and convert it to an isolation center without an order of the court.

Source: The Nation

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