Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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House of Reps urged to host virtual, physical public hearing on Controversial Infectious Bill

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A coalition of civil society organisations has called on the House of Representatives to host a virtual and physical public hearing on the controversial Control of Infectious Disease Bill.

In a statement released in Abuja on Friday, the coalition urged the lawmakers to amend its standing rules on the procedure for law-making to integrate the newly proposed procedures suggested by the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

The CSOs included the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Yiaga Africa, Girl Child Africa, Centre for Liberty, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Say No Campaign, Amnesty International, EiE Nigeria, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, International Press Centre, among others.

The controversial bill was sponsored by three members of the House including Gbajabiamila on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, and had since passed first and second reading at the lower House.

The bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act of 1929 and enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill among many others.

Rejecting the actions of the lawmakers on the bill, the coalition said the attempt to give accelerated passage to such legislation without inputs from stakeholders and the general public is contrary to all the principle of effective and inclusive law-making.

While commending the resolve by the lawmakers to heed their earlier advice, the coalition said the public hearing should include integrated virtual public hearing on secured video conferencing platforms to promote public participation.

The CSOs demanded that the secured videoconferencing platform selected should be published with a list of organizations to participate in the e-Public hearing and the dates for the hearing.

“The House must promote inclusion to ensure that diverse interests are represented. This includes engagement with religious and traditional leaders, women, youth, and persons living with disabilities,” the statement said.

(Guardian NG)

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