Decision to consider infectious disease bill is in line with Constitution – Reps

In a statement yesterday by the House of Representatives spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, Reps insists that the decision to consider the infectious disease bill was in line with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution.
The reps expressed dismay over reports by a section of the media that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had ordered the house to suspend consideration of the controversial bill.
The house described such report as not only misleading but a wilful or malicious misinterpretation of the decision of the court in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020 on May 13, 2020.
It maintained that it was unfortunate that the interim order was wrongly reported by a section of the media.
“The house, therefore, wishes to put the order of the court in proper perspective and state that the act of legislation is a sacred and constitutional responsibility, which should not be subjected to flimsy or superficial reportage in the interest of our democracy.
“While the respondents await official service of processes in the above-mentioned suit as directed by the court, the house reiterates that as a creation of the Nigerian constitution, it will continue to perform its lawful mandate without jeopardising its healthy deference to the judicial system and the process of adjudication.
“While the house encourages the public and all media outfits to verify and refer to the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the court’s order in all further social commentary or report on the subject matter, it has become necessary to set the record straight,” it stated.
According to the house, although the applicant, by way of a motion ex parte, sought a court order suspending the consideration of the bill by the house, the court, in its wisdom and in the interest of justice and fair hearing, declined to grant the reliefs sought by the applicant, to enable the respondents in the case to appear before it and enter a defence.
“For the sake of clarity, the crux of the court’s decision in the abovementioned suit is reproduced hereunder: ‘Upon hearing this motion ex-parte as moved by learned counsel to the applicant and upon careful consideration of the averments in the affidavit in support, exhibits attached and the written and oral address of learned counsel, the court is of the view that bearing in mind the weighty averments in the affidavit in support which are intended to stay the legislative actions of the respondents in regard to the bill in disputation and the exigencies of the times (that is to say the COVID-19 pandemic) and the attendant hysteria in the polity, the court is of the opinion that it is in the interest of justice to hear the respondents before making a long term decision in this case.”
“It is for this reason that I hereby make an order mandating the respondents to appear before this court on May 20, 2020, to show why the application should not be granted.”

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