Infectious Diseases Bill explained: Why it is a threat to your civil right

As a measure to curb the menace of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria as it has spread to our communities, the Nigerian government proposed an Infectious Diseases Bill which in clear terms has been explained here.

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In an attempt to save Nigerians from a pandemic, here is Nigerian government writing dictatorship into law, constitutionally. Nigerian ‘thinker’, Olaniyei Gates, @Olóyè has explained the content of the bill in clear terms. See below;

“The Infectious Diseases Bill has passed 2nd reading. The Infectious Diseases bill is the Social media bill and Hate speech bill put together but WORSE. You might be wondering what COVID-19 has to do with any of that. But despondent wonders never end in this country.

Asides it being obviously ripped off from Singapore Infectious Diseases Bill/Act of 1977 (Singapore was still a strict dictatorship then). It gives you all the adverse effects of living under a dictatorial regime but none of it economic development, all of Buhari and no Lee Kwan Yew.

It makes the DG of NCDC an unelected dictator. And that might not sound as bad now that we have scientists in that position, what happens when that position becomes politicised is the problem.

The DG of NCDC and Minister for Health will become Dictator 1 and 2 as they have the legal right to play judge and jury based on whims or their personal opinions while anyone found guilty by them gets no day in court because their decision is final!

Now, you might be thinking; how does this affect me? I’m about to get to it. Pay attention. – The Minister can declare your house or your area an isolation center if he feels like it and if you are deemed to have left that area or attempt to leave, you can be arrested without warrant by a police officer.

The minister doesn’t need any other cause except he/she “suspects” that it is a contaminated area and he further has the power to declare the destruction of your property or of public property based on this “suspicion”. There’s more.

Without warrant means a police officer can arrest and detain you without any proof, all he needs is “suspicion”. Also, you will have no right to a lawyer as your faith will be in the hands of DG NCDC and Minister, not a capable court of law.

Your constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing and presumption of innocence gone in a poof. So if an area in Yaba is declared an isolation area, all the officer needs to arrest you is a ‘suspicion” that you have been to that area.

It also gives the police officer the legal power to “take ANY action that is necessary to give effect” to the described law. Keyword being “ANY”. We are going to empower the world famous Nigerian police to take ANY action it deems fit maybe including “accidental discharge”.

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Section 20 of the law makes it worse. The DG NCDC can decide all by himself that a meeting of any kind can increase the risk of spread of an infectious disease (COVID-19 is not the only infectious disease). So, scenes when DG NCDC is an APC member and he deems a campaign ground by the PDP a meeting capable of spreading an infectious disease.

No, I’m not making all these up. It sounds like Nollywood but it is not. Law is to be “interpreted” which makes the wordings very important. So “any” is “any” and infections disease can be Flu.

It gets worse. Section 5(3) of the Infectious Diseases Bill makes it an offence to reject allowing the DG of NCDC take a blood sample from you if he “suspects” you have an infectious disease. And this is not limited to the time period when an infectious disease is being fought. It is permanent.

Section 8 makes it compulsory for the doctor or any medical practitioner to forgo doctor patient confidentiality and release medical details and records of any patient to the DG at his request.

Section 13 empowers the DG to arrest anyone and keep them for as long as he deems fit if again he “suspects” that a person has an infectious disease without a warrant or a court order.

Suspicion not information! I already mentioned that the Minister of health can designate your property an isolation area without recourse to law even in absence of disease.

Section 30 says vaccination for an unknown disease is compulsory if you’re leaving or entering Nigeria. Section 47 gives the DG the power to power call for compulsory vaccination whether there’s an outbreak or whether he suspects there’s one.

Section 24 says a police officer can arrest anyone who is suffering from an infectious disease. Flu is an infectious disease and the police now have the legal backing to arrest anyone who’s showing symptoms of flu in public. The world famous Nigerian police.

Section 55 gives the DG the power to request any book, document or or information he requires and further empowers the DG to enter into any premise without recourse to forcefully take such. Meaning if the DG feels you’re about to release embarrassing information they can make you give up your sources. Bye bye to press freedom.

Section 58 states clearly that any police man can arrest and detain anyone has long as “he has reason to believe”. That means, you’re guilty until proven innocent and burden of proof is now on the citizen not the police.

Section 71 states the DG and his enforcers cannot be held liable for what they use this powers for. So, if say a police were to accidentally shoot you because he suspects you have a virus. He cannot be charged to court. IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY!

This bill strips you of freedom of movement, association, fair hearing, all in a fell swoop. It also goes after property rights.

We will effectively be under an authoritarian rulership. It was rushed through even bypassing public hearing against the constitution.

This bill is not limited to only when there’s a pandemic. It becomes the new order pandemic or not.

You will be subjected to forced injection pandemic or not We should pay attention to this and raise our voices against it before it goes through while we still can.

So many countries are more affected by this pandemic and they are not coming up with unconscionable laws like this. Why us?

If you’re opposed to this draconian bill hashtag #WeOppose stating why you oppose and tweet at all the lawmakers on your TL. Be Civil.

A sitting president can declare himself the Minister for Health. What happens when the President does that and uses those powers to push elections back? It is absolutely necessary to oppose this bill by hashtaging #WeOppose and stating why you oppose the #InfectiousDiseaseBill

The future of this country is at stake. It’ll give a sitting president who makes himself Minister for Health ABSOLUTE powers. The Judiciary will not be able to do anything about it because the bill seeks to bypass the judiciary. Tweet #WeOppose the Infectious Diseases Bill.

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