The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, May 5, introduced its own Infectious Disease Control Bill under a new name amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Bill titled: “National Health Emergency Bill” sponsored by the Chairman Senate Committee on Communicable Diseases and Primary Healthcare, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) scaled first reading on Tuesday.
However, Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West), a former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, kicked against the consideration of the bill on the ground that the draft copies had not been made available to senators to peruse.
His words: “I rely on Order 41 of the Senate Standing Rule. As a senator, I am entitled to know the details of this Bill.
“We want to have copies of the gazetted copies. There is controversy over the same Bill in the House of Representatives.
“We don’t want to have the same issue here. We need to be guided to avoid any backlash. I need to read it and prepare ahead of time.”
Senator Ahmad Lawan, the President of the Nigerian Senate, however, directed the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, to ensure the distribution of copies of the bill to all the senators.
The Senate President ruled that the second reading of the Bill will take place next week after Senators must have had the Bill.
His words: “The copies are ready and everybody will get a copy. We are not taking the second reading immediately. That will be done next week. So, members will have the time to read the contents of the Bill.”
On the other hand, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had last week sponsored a bill titled “Control of Infection Diseases Bill 2020” which was passed for both first and reading in the House of Representatives.