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Reps commence hearing on infectious diseases bill, bar journalists from coverage of proceedings

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Federal House of Representatives PHOTO:Twitter


The long-awaited public hearing on the controversial infectious diseases Bill has commenced in the House of Representatives.

This is as journalists covering the activities of the House of Representatives have been denied access to the venue of the hearing due to inexplicable reasons.

The two days hearing is organised by the House Committees on Health Services, Health Institutions and Justice.

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Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila who declared the hearing open expressed concern that the engagement on the proposed legislation has been ill-informed and outrightly malicious.

Said he: “There are those in our society, who benefit from promoting the falsehood that every government action is cynical, and every policy proposal must be the product of malignant influence.

“We must never succumb to the impulses that these elements represent, and we must reject them always as doing so is an act of excellent service to a nation we love and are beholden to.

The Speaker who admitted that the draft Bill is imperfect assured that inputs from stakeholders would be factored into the piece of legislation before it is passed into law.

On the decision to bar journalists, an unidentified Sergent-at-Arm stationed at the entrance of Hearing Room 028, venue of the public hearing, explained that he under instructions not to allow journalists into the committee room.

According to him, it was only the chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, Tanko Sununu that would clear journalists to cover the event.

Reports also have it that the Clerk of the Committee, Joyce Umeru was also found of holding the Committee events in secrecy and has vowed not to have any business to do with journalists.

The Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, which is jointly sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, the chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Paschal Obi and Sununu has been trailed by controversy, amidst allegations that the bill was plagiarized from a similar bill in Singapore.

The bill had generated furore on the floor of the House, last month, after Gbajabiamila attempted to push it through first, second reading and committee consideration within a few hours.

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