The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Tuesday denied the legislature was bribed to quickly pass the controversial Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020, saying that the bill would now pass through public hearing.
Gbajabiamila disclosed this at Tuesday’s plenary.
This is coming against the backdrop of controversies that have trailed the bill after it was speedily passed through the first and second readings in the House, which may be the reason the speaker is now subjecting the bill to public hearing.
He disagreed with those who condemned the timing of the bill, insisting that it was appropriate to enact such a bill at this time.
According to him, claims that the leadership of the house had received $10 million to pass the bill were not true.
He said the allegations were weighty, and that the House would take legal action.
The bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act of 2004 to suit modern realities and increase the penalty for violating the Act.
Recall that the bill, which was sponsored by Gbajabiamila and two of his colleagues, Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu, was introduced on the floor of the lower chambers last Tuesday.
It was said that in a bid to give the bill a speedy passage through first, second, and third readings, suffered a setback as it was resisted by a group of lawmakers present at the previous plenary.
Rep Nkem Abonta, who was among other lawmakers who opposed the speedy passage of the bill, had urged his colleagues to exercise restraint.
The lawmaker added that he feared the bill would give too much powers to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), such as the compulsory vaccination of Nigerians.
Abonta stated that this could be an infringement on the human rights of citizens and pleaded that consideration of the bill be suspended until members were familiar with its full content.
According to him, the bill is as a long-term measure against diseases in the country and not for the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Explaining the bill, Gbajabiamila said it would further empower the NCDC to deal better with diseases in the future.
The bill, however, scaled the first and second readings despite huge dissenting voices in the House when it was put to a voice vote.