Reps to Hold Two-Day Public Hearing on Infectious Disease Bill

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has given the assurance that transparency and accountability will be upheld in the conduct of the public hearing stage of the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020.

He said the public hearing, which is expected to take place in the next few weeks, would be for two days and would be physical and open to submission of memorandum and position papers from members of the public.

Gbajabiamila stated this on Monday when he received some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at his office in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He told them that the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) during and after its outbreak were of paramount concern to the House.

The speaker noted that the House would step up its oversight responsibility on issues and palliative programmes around COVID-19, and the 9th Assembly’s Legislative Agenda would be rejigged to reflect the realities of the pandemic.

While stressing that the House would continue to observe its weekly sitting and add more days where necessary, he insisted that the lawmakers would continue to pass critical legislation during the COVID-19 period.

The lawmaker said, “On the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 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 the public hearing.

“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.”

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“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,” he added.

According to the speaker, the bill that will be passed by the House will be the aggregate of the submissions of Nigerians.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Clement Nwankwo of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) commended the lawmakers for rising to the occasion.

The House, according to him, has shown leadership in consultation regarding the pandemic and taken some positive steps to address the issues of concern.

Also at the meeting were the Majority Leader of the House, Hassan Ado-Doguwa; the Chief Whip, Muhammad Monguno; the Deputy Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani; and the House Committee Chairman on Defence, Babajimi Benson.

Others included the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, the Chief Executive Officer of Women Trust Fund, Mufuliat Fijabi; and the Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Samson Itodo.

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