Court slates June 30 for judgment in Melaye’s Infectious Disease Bill suit

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed June 30, 2020, to deliver judgment in the suit filed by former Senator Dino Melaye challenging the passage of the Infectious Diseases Bill.

The trial Judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu fixed the date on Monday after parties in the matter adopted their briefs of arguments.

The bill, which is sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and two other lawmakers, Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu- seeks to empower the Federal Government to convert any property in the country, including private property, to isolation centres.

The bill also seeks to empower the government to, upon mere suspicion that a person is infected with an infectious disease, arrest and detain the person for as long as necessary, among others.

The former Senator had, on May 5, claimed that the provisions of the Bill violate his fundamental rights, among which are rights to the dignity of the person, personal liberty, right to private and family life, right to freedom of movement and right to own immovable property in Nigeria.

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The suit has the clerk of the National Assembly the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federal (AGF) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) as 1st to 5th respondents respectively.

Justice Ojukwu had, on June 1, adjourned the matter until June 15 while advising parties to restrain themselves from actions that could jeopardise the suit.

Nkem Okoro, Counsel to Melaye had, at yesterday’s proceedings urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought by his client in the application.

However, Kayode Ajulo, Counsel to the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; lawyer to the AGF, M.L. Shiru and Kehinde Oluwole, who represented IGP, urged the court to strike out the matter for lacking in merit.

They argued that a bill, which was yet to become a law, could not have infringed on the plaintiff’s fundamental rights.

Shiru, who represented the AGF argued that the country’s constitution provided for the separation of powers among the three organs of government.

According to her, in view of the principle of separation of powers as applicable, we are quite aware that the honourable court can interfere in legislative processes when there is the only defiance from the provisions of the constitution.

“However, this power can only be exercised in respect of enacted laws and not legislative bills and we urge your lordship to uphold our submissions in the preliminary objection and decline to grant the reliefs of the applicant,” she said and stressed that the National Assembly had the powers to make and amend laws as provided by the constitution.

The lawyer said although Melaye had laid emphasises on Sections 6, 29, 30 and 47 of the proposed bill, she urged the court to “dismiss all the reliefs sought by the applicant on the provisions of the bill as vexatious and annoying.

“The applicant has not proved that the bill infringes on his fundamental rights. A bill is not a law yet and if it is not a law, how can it infringe on his right.

“Therefore, application of the applicant should be discountenanced by the court,” Shiru said and further prayed the court to award a cost against the applicant (Melaye) for bringing such vexatious application before the court.


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