Reps Bow to Pressure, to Hold Public Hearing on Infectious Disease Bill

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SWITZERLAND, MAY 11 – Following criticisms from Nigerians and civil society organisations, the House of Representatives has said it would hold a public hearing on the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020.

Recall that several Individuals and groups in the country had kicked against the speedy move to pass the bill without input from concerned stakeholders.

On Monday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, told Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in his office that coronavirus and its effects were of paramount concern to the House.

The CSOs led by Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), had in attendance Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Mufuliat Fijabi, Chief Executive Officer, Women Trust Fund and Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA).

“We are aware that many of the comments it generated are genuine, some were political and some were clearly based on the misunderstanding of the bill but we cannot ignore any and that is why we are taking it to public hearing”, Gbajabiamila said.

“It is going to be conducted over two days and because we don’t want to endanger anyone’s life, all the Covid-19 protocols would be observed in a hall that is supposed to take 300 people, we will have about 40. Those who could not make it the first day would have the opportunity to be there the second day.

“The public hearing would be physical because this is all about transparency and accountability. We don’t want to endanger the lives of Nigerians. It will be beamed live on TV and Radio but those that cannot make it to the public hearing will have the opportunity of sending their memorandum to the House.”

Gbajabiamila, however, explained that the quick passage of the first Economic Stimulus Bill was borne out of the urgency to address the economic implication of the pandemic on the country

He said the bill would forestall job loss of Nigerians and ensure tax relief for Nigerians and their employees during these times.

The lawmaker added that it also seeks to make available funds for protective materials and other equipment.

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