On Wednesday, 29th April 2020, everyone woke up to the news that the House of Representatives has passed a bill through the second reading to ensure safety over pandemics of any kind.
As the House of Representatives open up the bill to public hearing, it is very essential that we know for sure what we are dealing with here to enable us make informed decisions.
Below are key highlights of the proposed law and arguments surrounding it.
It seeks to make a review of the Quarantine Act of 1926
It was introduced by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and co-sponsored by Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu
In several parts of the bill, the Director-General is given full power to execute the laws as he “deems fit” or “thinks fit”.
The Director-General has the legal power to arrest persons suspected to have an infectious disease, confiscate properties or search premises; all without a warrant.
Punishments for defaulting goes thus; First-time offenders will pay N100,000/2 years jail term, giving false information attracts N200,000/2 years jail term while providing water/food unfit for consumption will get you 5 million fine.
According to a report of ICIR, Parts One to Five of the Nigerian Act were all lifted from the Singaporean law word-for-word.
The government pays all damages done to a person’s property except in cases where the person has defaulted on some of the laws.
The DG can place restriction on gatherings and meetings that could enable the further spread of an infectious disease.
Vaccination is mandated for persons travelling in/out of a country as well as children at birth. International certificates are issued thereafter.
The bill opens up the room for some persons to evade the provisions of the Act on the discretion of the Minister as stated in section 77.
Contrary to belief, vaccine for coronavirus has not been discovered.