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Christian Group Picks Holes in Infectious Diseases Bill 2020… NMVN, AFD, 76 others too

By Ralph Madugu

The Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship, an inter-denominational faith-based organization with a mandate of training and empowering members spiritually, economically and socially in order to provide sound and enlightened leadership in the church and the larger society, has raised concerns on the Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 which is currently being debated in the floor of the National Assembly.

In a document titled, “Comments of the Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship (NCGF) on the Infectious Diseases Bill 2020,” published on its official blog, the NCGF stated that both the long and the short titles of the bill were misleading because a closer look at the contents showed that the bill not only regulates or addresses control and prevention of infectious diseases but other diseases that are not infectious.

Public Hearing on the controversial Infectious Diseases Bill

Public Hearing on the controversial Infectious Diseases Bill

NCGF described the section of the bill which makes vaccination compulsory as “an affront” on the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of Nigerians as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, especially Sections 39 and 40, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations’ Charter on Human Rights 1948.

It added that making vaccinations mandatory and compulsory equally gave credence to some conspiracy theories circulating in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which the NCGF did not accept.

It stressed that vaccination was generally voluntary, unless in a state of emergency as provided by Section 45 of the Nigerian Constitution.

“Making vaccinations mandatory and compulsory, apart from being an infringement on the fundamental rights and civil liberties of Nigerians as discussed above and below, equally gives credence to some conspiracy theories circulating in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which the NCGF does not agree with. In particular, in this regard, is the theory of a purported new world order through mandatory vaccinations along with implant of RFID microchips.

“The NCGF believes that these conspiracy theories, which the sections that make vaccinations mandatory in this Bill appear to give support to, will unfortunately cause many Nigerians to shun and run away from vaccinations generally. This would be inimical to the health of the citizens. However, the NCGF believes in the effectiveness and usefulness of proven vaccines, but will not support any moves to make any vaccine mandatory or compulsory except in a state of emergency or police state.”

The body said that curtailing the freedom of movement and rights of association as contained in Section 13(1) (4) was a “serious curtailment of the freedom of movement and right of association of Nigerians,” adding that the combined effect of sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the right to assemble freely, abrogated by the effects of Sections 13(1) and 13(4) of the Bill,  were all violations of the fundamental right to peaceful assembly and association.

Femi Gbajabiamila-Speaker, House of Representatives in the Eye of the Storm

Femi Gbajabiamila-Speaker, House of Representatives in the Eye of the Storm

“We of the NCGF therefore say unequivocally that it is only in a state of emergency as provided by Section 45 of the Nigerian Constitution that these rights can be suspended, and not through any act as envisaged by this Bill.”

Making particular reference to Section 6, 12, 13, 14, 15,16, 19 and 24 which talks about medical examination and treatment, wakes and disposal of corpses, isolation of certain persons, surveillance, isolation area, abatement of overcrowding, prohibition or restriction of meetings, gatherings or public entertainment and Power of an enforcement officer to order the destruction of a house building or anything, the group expressed worry that these sections can be used against religious organizations such as churches and Christian fellowships.

It added that the bill gave too much and wide powers to the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which, according to NCGF, can easily be abused by being used to infringe on the civil liberties and fundamental human rights of Nigerians.

NCFF expressed concern that the bill took away the powers of governors to issue executive orders in times of health emergencies under the Quarantine Act which the Infectious Disease Bill attempts to repeal, and vests such powers on the Director General of NCDC.

Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu-To be given more powers if the Bill is Passed into Law

Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu-To be given more powers if the Bill is Passed into Law

This, the NCGF maintained, was another attempt to move Nigeria towards a unitary system of government where control is located at the center.

“This was the case of Singapore from where this Bill was copied hook line and sinker and during the dictatorship of the Nigerian military, especially in the days when Muhammadu Buhari was the Military Head of State wielding draconian powers. This is contrary to the stance of NCGF and other well-meaning organizations and individuals that Nigeria be restructured to reflect true federalism as we had in the First Republic.”

According to NCGF, there was an existing NCDC Act, noting that Nigeria already had an extant Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Establishment) Act, 2018, hence the Infectious Diseases Bill was being “sponsored by the Speaker under some suspicious premise is not needed.”

It also expressed concern about a report in one of the national dailies that the House of Representatives had decided to exclude the Governor of Sokoto State, who was a former Speaker of the House, from its consultative meeting with the Governors’ Forum on the bill because he was allegedly misguiding the other governors to rise against the bill.

It stated that this stance was against the Constitution and a threat to the country’s democratic institutions.

The NCGF said it was worried that the Infectious Diseases Bill was almost a direct  replica of the Singapore Infectious Diseases Act 1977 which showed that Nigerian legislators lacked “depth of thought and originality of ideas that are in compliance with our local circumstances and beneficial to Nigeria.”

NCGF said “By copying the Singaporean law hook line and sinker, these legislators also demonstrate laziness and exhibit a “copy and paste” mentality which has been one of the major shortcomings of governance practice in Nigeria as we are seeing under the covid-19 guidelines and regulations of the Federal Government.

“That is, the sponsors of the Bill, in copying almost 100% a Singaporean law, failed to understand that in 1977 Singapore was under the dictatorship of a maximum ruler, Lee Kuan Yew; hence the mandatory provisions about vaccination in the Bill. Such provisions definitely cannot be accommodated or acceptable in a system that is supposed to be federal and democratic.”

… NMVN, AFD, 76 others too

A group, The Coalition Against Mandatory Vaccination in Nigeria and the Advocates for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) and 76 other affiliate bodies have kicked against plans to pass into law the Infectious Diseases Bill currently before the National Assembly.

The Coalition against Mandatory Vaccination in Nigeria is a movement that sprouted in response to this particular bill while the AFD, a coalition of Christian professionals committed to building a prosperous and democratic Nigeria, had existed for a couple of years now.

The groups made their position known in a memorandum presented to the National Assembly in Abuja during the Public Hearing in which they raised concerns regarding areas touching on human rights and public health which they described as threats to God-given rights duly protected by the Constitution.

In the memo, a copy of which was obtained by this medium, the groups highlighted few sections of the bill which they said contained what it termed “The traditional threats.”

“Section 6(1) and (2) require anyone suspected of having been “in contact of an infectious disease,” to unceremoniously submit to medical examination or treatment, including X-rays and taking of blood samples.”

They added that more outrageous is the requirement that healthcare professionals must collect and transmit to the Director General National Centre for Disease Control such information as he (DG) may  require of them concerning their patients, “notwithstanding any restriction on the disclosure of information imposed by any written law, rule of professional conduct or contract;” thereby putting the decision of a government appointee above the nation’s Constitution, other international health regulations as well as fundamental professional ethical codes and principles.

The coalition stated that the technological Threats to human rights, liberties, dignity, and public health lurk around chip implants,” are inexorably associated with mandatory vaccination which spirit permeates the entire Bill.

They also submitted that there should be no problem proscribing mandatory vaccination in Nigeria adding that in the opinion of the groups, it is not scientifically justifiable.

Citing reasons to buttress their claims the coalition said “Vaccines are known to be rife with safety issues, especially when administered indiscriminately to people without considering genetic, physiological, and possible underlying health conditions in them.

“Efficacy of vaccines in general is not good enough to warrant making them mandatory for the general population. Reliable records available show that at times, efficacy of some vaccines could be in the negative-implying better health indices are observed in the unvaccinated compared with the vaccinated population.”

The groups opined that there are better, safer and more efficacious alternatives to vaccines including prophylactic drugs good nutrition, good sanitation including provision of good drinking water.

“the MRNA vaccine in particular, which is in the front-runner among other candidate vaccines for COVID-19 disease (the direct reason for the Act of the Parliament under consideration) can mess up our genetic constitution. It is totally new form of vaccine that has never been applied to human beings before. For such a vaccine, safety testing must include not only the vaccinated subjects, but their off springs for genetic and epigenetic adverse effects.

“It will open the way for chip implants, which is indeed the barely-hidden agenda why such a patently unreasonable proposition as mandatory vaccination should continue to be so forcefully rammed down our throat.”

The groups warned that, if allowed to creep in, chip implants will turn Nigerians in zombies in the hand of the foreign controllers of the technology which they described as “the ultimate form of neo-colonialism,” that might subjugate Nigerians and generations yet unborn to eternal slavery.

“None of us irrespective of social status, religion or ethnicity, would be spared. This is indeed a defining moment in our life as a nation.”

They also noted in their submission to the Green Chambers that better control of infectious diseases could be achieve in the country if serious attention is paid to the abundant herbal resources the country is endowed with, that could be used as remedy instead of patented vaccines being forced upon the country from abroad.

While recommendations on the way forward, the coalition called for adequate attention to be given to underlying non-communicable diseases that often weaken the immunity and response to infectious diseases.

“We suggest that the traditional threats contained in this bill could be mitigated if the powers concentrated in the office of the DG were devolved into independent Committees comprised of well-respected representatives of appropriate professional bodies in Nigeria.

“The NCDC Acts of 2018 actually empowers the Governing Board of the NCDC to constitute such committees (Section 9 (f) and (g). As for the technological threats, chip-based “fake-proof” certification would be unnecessary if vaccination were not mandatory in the first place; and the Bill should specifically prohibit mandatory implantation of chips into people either for surveillance or administration of drugs or vaccines. For this latter suggestion to be meaningful in our country, manufacturers of chip implants should be required to provide with their advertisement, adequate information on the hazards associated with their products, just as is required of tobacco.”

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has urged Nigerians to reject the passing into law the proposed bill describing it as a conspiracy to destroy civil and human rights of Nigerians.

Addressing journalists at the National Christian Centre in Abuja after speaking before the Committee of Health Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, CAN National Secretary Joseph Daramola said “CAN has reviewed the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 (HB 836). We have studied the Bill (in depth) and observed that if passed for implementation, it shall trigger anarchy, disorder and insecurity. It is ‘superfluous’ but undermines every other authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (The President, State governors and the likes). It will make the Legislature that enacted the law become irrelevant towards implementation and control.”

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