OrderPaperToday – Many journalists were on Wednesday barred from covering the public hearing on the controversial Control of Infectious Disease Bill currently before the House of Representatives.
When journalists, particularly members of the House of Representatives Press Corps turned up to cover the event, they were refused access to the venue by operatives of the Sergeant-at-Arms, acting on the instructions of the Chairman of the Health Services Committee, Mr. Tanko Sunnu and the Committee Clerk, Joyce Umeru.
According to the operatives who hid their identity said they were told that only the Nigerian Television (NTA) and Channels Television were invited to cover the public hearing and journalists from other media organizations cannot be allowed in.
Sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamilla,
Pascal Obi, Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions and
Tanko Sununu, Chairman of the Committee on Health Services, the bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act and enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, make provisions relating to quarantine and make regulations for preventing the introduction into and spread in Nigeria of dangerous infectious diseases, and for other related matters.
The bill had been heavily criticised, particularly for giving too much powers to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the management of infectious diseases and pandemic in the country in ways that could infringe on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
The bill amongst others, empowered the Director-General of the NCDC to be in charge of the administration of the provisions, notification of prescribed infectious diseases, surveillance, medical examination and treatment, vaccination, post-mortem examination, destruction and disposal of infected animals, food and water, isolation of certain persons, prohibition or restriction of meetings, gatherings and public entertainments as well as control of occupation, trade or business.