Infectious Disease bill: Reps await official service of court order

•We'll perform our lawful mandate without jeopardizing healthy deference to judicial system ― Kalu

The House of Representatives on Sunday dismissed the trending reports alleging that ongoing legislative activities on the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill have been halted by the court.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu gave the clarification via a statement titled: ‘Infectious diseases bill: Consideration of the bill has not been halted by the Court’, in response to the media reports on the controversial bill.

Hon. Kalu who described the trending reports as “misrepresentation of facts”, argued that the unverified reports have misled various other media outfits and the general public.

“The House of Representatives notes with dismay the erroneous reports by certain print and online media outfits, in what appears to be willful or malicious misinterpretations of the decision of the court in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020 on 13th May 2020, asserting that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the House to suspend the ongoing process of the consideration of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 (the “Bill”); a misrepresentation of facts which has, in turn, misled various other media outfits and the general public.

“While the House encourages the public and all media outfits to verify and refer to the certified true copy of the Court’s order in all further social commentary or report on the subject matter, it has become necessary to set the record straight.

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“The truth of the matter is that although the applicant, by way of a motion ex parte, sought a Court order suspending the consideration of the Bill by the House, the Court in its wisdom and in the interest of justice and fair hearing, declined to grant the reliefs sought by Applicant in order to enable the Respondents in the case to appear before it and enter a defence.

“For the sake of clarity, the crux of the court’s decision in the above-mentioned suit is reproduced hereunder: ‘Upon hearing this Motion Ex-parte as moved by learned counsel to the Applicant and upon careful consideration of the averments in the affidavit in support, Exhibits attached and the written and oral address of learned counsel, the court is of the view that bearing in mind the weighty averments in the affidavit in support which are intended to stay the Legislative actions of the Respondents in regard to the Bill in disputation and the exigencies of the times (that is to say the COVID-19 pandemic) and the attendant hysteria in the polity, the court is of the opinion, that it is in the interest of justice to hear the Respondents before making a long term decision in this case.

‘It is for this reason that I hereby make an Order mandating the Respondents to appear before this court on the 20th day of May 2020 to show Cause why the application of the Applicant should not be granted’, the court ruling read.

“It is unfortunate that the purport of the interim order was wrongly reported. The House, therefore, wishes to put the order of the court in proper perspective and state that the act of legislation is a sacred and constitutional responsibility which should not be subjected to flimsy or superficial reportage in the interest of our democracy.

“While the respondents await official service of processes in the above-mentioned suit as directed by the court, the House reiterates that as a creation of the Nigerian Constitution, it will continue to perform its lawful mandate without jeopardizing its healthy deference to the judicial system and the process of adjudication,” Hon. Kalu stated.

 

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